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Mystery of ‘gun’ on derelict pillbox finally solved

PUBLISHED: 14:59 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:13 04 March 2020

The photo of the 'sniper gun' sculpture at Burnham Market has been shared on the Norfolk Countryside Photos (NCP) group on Facebook. Picture: Kevin Appleton

The photo of the 'sniper gun' sculpture at Burnham Market has been shared on the Norfolk Countryside Photos (NCP) group on Facebook. Picture: Kevin Appleton

Archant

The mystery of an unusual sculpture which appeared on the north Norfolk coast more than four years ago has finally been solved.

Building contractor Clive Thorner, from Burnham Market, created the metal gun sculpture four years ago. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPBuilding contractor Clive Thorner, from Burnham Market, created the metal gun sculpture four years ago. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

The artist behind a metal replica gun, placed on top of a pillbox in Burnham Market, has come forward to reveal that what had started out as "just a joke" had become a much-loved item of interest to visitors.

Building contractor Clive Thorner, who is from the village situated between Hunstanton and Wells, first had the idea to make the model gun following a conversation with his wife Penny about her family history.

Mrs Thorner said: "He put it up four years ago as a laugh - it was just a joke.

"It started after I told him about my dad, who used to stock the ammunition in the pillboxes in Norfolk during the Second World War.

Building contractor Clive Thorner, from Burnham Market, created the metal gun sculpture four years ago. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPBuilding contractor Clive Thorner, from Burnham Market, created the metal gun sculpture four years ago. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

"We joked about how funny it would be if we put a model gun on top of it. So I said to him, why don't we?

"One day, after he'd finished up on a job, he had some bits and pieces left over so he decided to make [the gun]."

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The metalwork, which was created during a single afternoon, has since been "modified" by Mr Thorner.

Mrs Thorner explained that the sculpture was not intended to replicate any type of specific gun and that her husband had made many modifications to it over the years, including a repaint and adding to the sides brass steer rods and an ammunition belt.

The item was eventually placed on top of the 1940s-built type 22 pillbox, based at the entrance to camping and caravanning site, Fallowfield.

Land owner Chris Howell, whose grandfather first purchased the site off the junction of Church Walk and the B1155, described Mr Thorner as "a talented individual". But he explained that displaying the artwork had come at a price.

A lifelong resident of Burnham Markert, he said: "I've been asked to take it down by police three times and we've even had the firearms out too.

"But us people in the countryside like to have a bit of fun - that's what it's all about.

"In the summer time, the amount of people who stop and take photos is incredible."

The unusual sculpture set tongues wagging last month after a photo of it was shared with more than 6,000 photography enthusiasts via the Facebook group Norfolk Countryside Photos (NCP).


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