JAN 10 A PAGE FROM THE SAGE
Well, the Christmas Lights were switched on, though, unfortunately, I was unable to be there. The weather could have been better but the lights – especially those in the Spinney - do look splendid. What a shame we have so many empty shops at the moment but it is great that the Marine Bar is open again.
Once in while I like to relate a few tales from the sea and the foreshore. Here are a few memories from an old fishermen and wildfowler.
The trout came on to the beach to roll in the shingle and rid themselves of sea lice. I never knew of one caught on the rod and line even though they do feed on sand eels and whitebait. After dark, a hundred and fifty yards of net would be loaded into the boat, shot off the stern then rowed around into a semi-circle before being hauled ashore. Trout up to twelve pounds in weight, flat fish, mackerel, tope and anything else may be caught up in that net, though more often than not there was nothing. When there were fish in it, they were shining white and worth every minute of that cold, hard work. One man worked a 300 yards net on his own, and caught a proper, 32 pound salmon off Brancaster, in daylight. The professional men fished in long boots and managed to keep their cigarettes dry by keeping them in their caps. They had to go to work the next day and safeguarded their health. The amateurs waded around with a 30 yard net. Nowadays, it is hard to get a crew to pull the beach all night, so the nets are anchored down and fished as soon as the tide leaves them. More of these tales in a month or two.
Staying with the beach and the sea, a man asked me what the acreage was of the Parish of Hunstanton and the beach. Well, the acreage of New Hunstanton is just 559 acres and after a great deal of research I found that officially Hunstanton has no beach or foreshore! I will explain. The Parish of Old Hunstanton covers 1822 acres with 550 acres of foreshore. Snettisham has 5592 acres of land, 16 acres of water – (water pits) - , 37 acres of tidal water and 1342 acres of foreshore. Heacham covers just 1822 acres of land with 225 acres of that being enclosed from the sea in 1851, but no foreshore. Heacham did at one time have a harbour but this was closed off just before the 2nd World War.
From what I can make of this it would seem that the Snettisham foreshore, which belongs to the Le Strange family, begins at Boat House Creek, near Wolverton Marshes and carries on to the North Beach at Heacham where it joins the Old Hunstanton foreshore, also belonging to the Le Strange Estate, and ending at the northern end of the Golf Course where the Holme-next – the Sea foreshore of 649 acres begins.
Now, how do we work out the area of the foreshore? Well, the dictionary definition is: ‘the part of the shore between high and low tide that is considered as part of the adjoining parish’. Now, this could mean that when we have low water in The Wash, Snettisham and Old Hunstanton could have a say over a very large area as the whole of The Wash covers 4157 hectares.
Doubtless many readers of The Newsletter will think that that is another load of squit from Dick but if you can work it out another way, please let me know!
Ever since I first started to walk along the Promenade in 1946, people have wanted to know what the sea is doing. Is it going in, is it going out, what time is high and low water. Well, I’ve always said that it would be a good idea to have Tide Tables along the Promenade. So, four years ago, West Norfolk District Council decided that we should have some digital tide tables along there. Now, after four years, I’ve been told that they will be in place by next summer. We will just wait and see!!
I have also been asked about the Hunstanton Bingo and Social Club which used to be under the Town Hall. It started in the early 1960s and as far as I remember it closed in the late eighties. It was started by a partnership of four Hunstanton business men who turned the cellar of the Town Hall, formerly housing the Town Youth Club, into a Bar, with Snooker, Darts and Crib facilities each game having its own teams. The floor of the main room in The Town Hall was made into a dance floor and a large Bar installed there. Bingo was held two or three night a week and dances twice a week. The resident organist for most of the time was Dick Mann from Downham Market.
The Town Hall, built, in 1896, was used as a place of entertainment. Concert parties and summer shows were held there. Maybe it will once again be used for this purpose should the Princess Theatre be closed. Any more memories of the Bingo and Social Club would be welcomed.
Road works seem to be in progress along the A149 near to Smithdon High School. What is going on? Well, I have been told that a cycle track is being constructed going all the way to the Wheatsheaf (now Tesco Express) in Heacham.
I’ve also been asked about the oldest buildings in New Hunstanton. Well, the oldest surviving homes are believed to be numbers 1 and 3 Hill Street. Number 1 was the Gamekeepers Cottage and number 3 was the residence of the Bailiff to the Le Strange Estate. The exact dates I do not know.
By the time this is read Christmas 2009 will be over and the brave souls will have been in the sea on Christmas Day for the annual swim. So, I wish you all a Happy New Year.