OCT 09 A PAFE FROM THE SAGE
I would first like to thank Mr Trevor Bell for pointing out the deliberate mistakes that I made in the August issue of the Newsletter. I have never seen dragon’s teeth in reality, only on diagrams and photographs, so thank you Trevor for putting me right.
Now, for all those pillboxes, Le-Strange car park, between St Mary’s Church and the A149 there were also tank traps, road blocks and anti tank blocks in this area. At St Edmund’s Point there was one army pillbox and one navy, to the north of the Lifeboat House there were three pillboxes in the sand dunes. In Waterworks Road was a navy pillbox, to the south of the pier on the beach near Johnson’s shop was another one and another pillbox was on the waste grounds 200 yards south of the Fairground. One stood to the east of the Golf Course and next to this pillbox was a gun emplacement.
As far as I can make out there were three Coastal Batteries along the cliffs, two army and one navy. The Coastguard Station stood on the cliffs and on 24th April 1943 they received a message to say that there were some very important people about to visit them. They thought the VIP would be Winston Churchill, they were also told that a detachment of the Brigade of Guards was going to carry out some secret firing tests on the top of the cliffs at the same time. When the official cars arrived out stepped not Winston Churchill but HM King George VI, HM Queen Elizabeth and the two Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. The Royal party stayed on the cliffs for half an hour chatting to the Coastguards and watching the rifle firing exercise. The Coastguard log for that day reads: Visibility 3 miles, slight swell, examined the coastline at daybreak, all correct, then a lot of military jargon after which there are four signatures; George RI, Elizabeth R, Elizabeth and Margaret.
Starting in 1944 a lot of the WWII defences between Snettisham and Holme were being taken down or demolished as the threat of invasion had gone away.
Another little story about Hunstanton beach during the war was told to me by Mr Dick Darby. A Wallaris Sea Plane crash landed to the north of the pier on the beach. To get it away it was dismantled and then dragged up over the beach onto the promenade ready to be taken away.
When doing the research into the WWII coastal defences around the Norfolk coast I found out that Scolt Head Island and an area called Little Ramsey near Brancaster were used as practice areas by the RAF getting ready for D Day. On May 11th and 23rd 1944 many bombs were dropped in this area by the RAF to test the most effective type of bombs on the sands as it had been established that Brancaster beach material was similar to that of the Normandy beaches.
A person spoke to me on Hunstanton Promenade the other day and they said it would not be nice if there were no kiosks on the promenade. I said I know they are part of the tradition of the seaside. Then I began to think back to all the people who had traded on the promenade over the last 60 years. One of the first to come to mind was Horace Brooks who hawked fresh shrimps from a basket. In 1947 just after the war, the Eldorado Ice Cream Company put some kiosks on the promenade and ice cream has been sold there ever since by Riki Richardson, Don Page, and for the last 30 years Mick Large. Mrs Peggy Williamson sold papers and sweets as did the Murton family. Both Alfie Haynes and Basil Johnson had Fancy Goods kiosks, Tina Downs sold beach toys like Mick Large does now. Outside the Blue Lagoon Mr Swain had a kiosk where you could have your photo taken in the morning, it would go to be developed and you could pick it up in the afternoon. Outside the Kit-Kat was the weight machine lady; for a tanner she would tell you your weight, height, heart beat and vitality. Captain Skit Grange could be heard all over town touting for punters to take a ride on Geoff Searle’s boats, Bert Wells had two shellfish stalls, one next to the weight lady and the other on the slipway next to the Wimpy Bar.
One of the best known characters on the promenade was Harry Hollamby who was a deck chair attendant for the council, but Harry would spend most of his time trapping racing pigeons that had lost their way and he would put them in a box and send them back to their owners by train. He was always known as the pigeon man.
In the 1960’s Don Shaw took over the Peter Pan kids park near the Kit-Kat and Don would stand on the promenade and shout at the top of his voice, come to Sunny Hunny and spend your money. Well now that’s just a few of the characters that I can think of who have worked on the promenade.
It has been a busy summer and there has been more and more people going to sea in small boats, canoes and the dreaded inflatable dinghy. Geoff Needham keeps us up to date with what the lifeboat has done but there are a lot of rescues at sea that we never hear of. Two friends of mine were fishing off Brancaster when a small sailing dinghy capsized right in front of them. They were able to push the dinghy upright and get it and its occupants into shallow water. Incidents like this happen nearly every day in summer around ther coast, please try to be safe when you go to sea.
To finish with this month just a few of the events that e have on at the United Services Club in October. On Friday 2nd we have a quiz night with home-made pie and peas with £50 first prize. Friday 9th October is Race Night, then it’s the big one, Friday 16th October is Party Night with the Peppermint Men, and a free buffet. All these events are free for members and just £1 for guests.
It is nice to see that the cemetery has been made a bit more tidy, maybe one of these days someone will decide to cut the grass on the sheep field. It’s only 85 days to Christmas, see you all in November!