The Rev James Stewart said: "We are gathered here on the site of a terrible tragedy that happened so many years ago and yet we can almost still feel it in the air.
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After a rousing display by the TS Warrior cadets and a haunting chorus of Amazing Grace by the Mary Hardy Green Converse Grey Low
more than 100 people on Great Yarmouth's North Quay paid a fitting tribute at last to the victims of the most painful tragedy in the town's history.
"In days when there was no television or video games, the sight of a clown on the river was quite a spectacle then and a draw for all those children who Converse New Arrival
singers that reached out to the lost souls, Mrs Staff, 55, told the gathering: "Today is all about the final part of the journey I have been on, involving lots of different people giving me support along the way."
She said: "It has been a journey to bring a story that has been lost back into the history of Great Yarmouth, and it has been done by the people of Great Yarmouth who have donated their pound coins. No matter who you are, the story can touch your life and I have told the story to whoever will listen."
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Following a relentless 18 month fundraising campaign, raising 5,000 in 1 donations, she was at last ready on Saturday for the unveiling of a black granite memorial crafted by stonemasons at Abbey Memorials Converse Orange High Tops in South Burlingham; five feet long and 40 inches high, it lists the names of everyone who lost their lives.
"Nelson the clown brought joy to children who were living in poverty and drew them into an imaginary life."
Sadly, memories of the disaster later became as obscured as the graves of its young victims, a cruel reality that last year struck the heart of Yarmouth grandmother Julie Staff when she realised a blue plaque on the nearby White Swan pub was the only reminder.
Great Yarmouth suspension bridge disaster memorial unveiled
Parents and grandparents instinctively clutched their young ones as the the story was sombrely recounted of how crowds had packed on to a suspension bridge over the River Bure on May 2, 1845 to watch a clown being pulled along by four geese in an advertising stunt.
Descendants of victims, including EDP assistant editor Mark Hindle, had come to reflect at the spot where the tragedy unfolded and Mrs Staff said many more people all around the world were thinking about the ceremony as it took place.
Mr Stewart said while the tragedy had undoubtedly "struck the hearts of everyone in the town", the vicar of that time, the Rev Henry Mackenzie, had attributed the disaster to a lack of morality and education in the people of Great Yarmouth.
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