Memories from an east coast resort that faces west

Archive picture of visitors to Hunstanton pier on the Norfolk coast.

Sampling the delights of Hunstanton beach at the turn of the twentieth century in the days when you dressed UP to go to the seaside. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects.

It has been a dreadful year for our normally packed promenades and coastal resorts in Norfolk. All too often they have resembled ghost towns as restrictions on movement tightened.

Archive picture of Hunstanton promenade

Strolling along the promenade at Hunstanton. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects

Let’s hope that in 2021 the sun comes out and the smiles return as our wonderful seaside playgrounds burst back into life again.

Meanwhile join us on a journey back in time to Sunny Hunny, Funstanton… Hunstanton.

Old photo of boats off Hunstanton beach

Boats sailing close to the shore at Hunstanton beach. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects.

As well as having the distinction of being one of the few east coast resorts in Britain that face west, it was custom-built for the holidaymaker.

Archive picture of Hunstanton

Dressed up for a day out at Hunstanton beach with the promenade in the background. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects.

Henry Styleman le Strange (1815-1862), head of a long-standing Norfolk family and lord of the manor of what was known as Old Hunstanton, was a man with a vision.

He saw the potential in developing his estate at a time when trips to the seaside were becoming popular.

Donkey ride at Hunstanton

Donkey rides along the shore at Hunstanton. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects.


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Work began in earnest during 1846. Henry designed the new town, which was built around the Green, and was the driving force behind the ambitious project.

The first building on the site, imaginatively named the New Inn, opened in 1846. It is now the popular Golden Lion Hotel.

Old postcard of Sandringham Hotel at Hunstanton

A postcard depicting the Great Eastern Railway Company’s majestic Sandringham Hotel at Hunstanton where the Harlequin House is today. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects

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The launch of the rail service from nearby King’s Lynn in 1862 helped transform Hunstanton into a thriving and bustling Victorian resort. Generations of holidaymakers have been returning ever since.

Old Hunstanton railway station

Passengers line the platform and tracks at the old Hunstanton railway station. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects

The station was well placed for both the beach and town centre. The service to and from Lynn had been a popular one but closed in 1969.

Old Hunstanton railway station

A train pulled into the platform at Hunstanton railway station which closed in the 1960s. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects

Tourists have always been spoiled for choice of what to do in Hunstanton. It had, and still has, so much to offer. From the old Esplanade Gardens and elegant Victorian squares to the Princess Theatre, the Sea-Life Centre and so much more.

Children paddling in the pools on Hunstanton beach

Children paddling in the pools on Hunstanton beach. - Credit: Mike Adcock Collection courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Projects.

Back in 1996 for the celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary we spoke to the then mayor Brian Devlin who had lived in the town all his life who told us: “With it being a small community, a small seaside resort, it’s not too busy.

“You get to know folk. People have got a little time for you. It’s not too commercialised. It’s got a little bit of quality,” he said.

The EDP was involved with the summer of fun which included a whole host of events from history exhibitions to sandcastle and strongman competitions.

There was anniversary rock to be had at Dale’s Wonderland of Rocks and Sweets and a Sunny Honey birthday cake, striped to represent the cliffs took pride of place at Philip Mayer’s High Street Bakery and Tearooms.

Our photographs come from the Mike Adcock Collection thanks to Frances and Michael Holmes of the Norwich Heritage Projects.

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