Frank Cork, DFC: Town Mayor shaped future of King’s Lynn
PUBLISHED: 08:59 16 July 2012
A former mayor of King’s Lynn, Frank Cork, who has died peacefully at home aged 94, helped to shape the modern town as large areas of slum housing were knocked down.
He started a civil engineering and haulage business, Cork Bros, initially at Wellesley Street, with his brother, after moving to Lynn.
In 1958, the firm’s new demolition arm took up old runways at Marham and used the 5,000 tons of hardcore for the foundations of Campbells Soups factory in Hardwick Road.
Another big project involved destruction of 150 houses in Highgate when 80 men worked to take down eight to 10 houses a week.
While undertaking one of his largest single jobs, demolishing a chapel in Tower Street in 1960, he fell and was left unconscious for three hours.
Many buildings in Lynn High Street, including a 17th century public house, fell to the Cork pickaxes and as managing director, he was involved in the central area redevelopment of the Railway Road area.
While many of Lynn’s older properties were described as charming or picturesque, mainly because of their age, they were not fit for human habitation. “They are just rats’ nests,” Mr Cork told the EDP in 1963.
Educated in London, he read political economics at Ruskin College, Oxford. During the second world war, he flew with RAF Bomber Command, completing more than 90 missions in Lancasters, mainly with 57 Squadron at Feltwell, and also took part in the Dresden raid.
Flt Lieut Cork was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in September 1945 for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”.
He entered local government in 1962 when he became a member of the former Lynn Borough Council, representing Central Ward.
He had twice sought a seat on the town council, firstly in 1959 as an independent and then as a Conservative in 1961. He chaired the public works committee and became an alderman of the borough.
After local government reorganisation, he represented the Chase and Central Ward on West Norfolk District Council, and was chairman of the housing committee until 1976.
In April 1977, his nomination as the town’s fourth mayor of King’s Lynn was put to the 16 charter trustees. He spent almost 25 years as a councillor.
Always keen to stimulate industry and commerce, he urged employers to do their utmost to help youngsters. “We can and we must bring about employment in the area to prevent the drift away of our young people,” he said.
Defending the role of mayor, he told the EDP that year: “I’m a stickler for tradition and would hate to see it go out. The mayoralty is something to be preserved and the mayor should give the lead wherever he can.”
He was a member of the Chamber of Trade and Commerce executive committee, and also of the Civic Society and a past secretary of the town’s RAF Association.
He had an active retirement and in 2006, he graduated from the Open University.
A keen piano player, he then started another degree in music but did not have the time to complete his studies.
He was married for more than 50 years to Muriel who predeceased. He leaves two sons, John and Martin, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Church, South Wootton, on Friday, July 27 at 1pm.