FEB 10 A PAGE FROM THE SAGE
Well now, we’ve had some rough old weather over Christmas! John and Sparky took me up to the Club on a sledge. Unfortunately, it was stolen by an old chap dressed in a white coat and he had a white beard. I’ve not seen the sledge since. Therefore, I was not able to get down to the beach for the Annual Christmas Day Swim. This is only the second time I have missed being a spectator at this event during the last forty years.
The ice and snow on the roads and pavements has caused quite a few problems. I think that the Highways Authority have got their priorities all wrong as the majority of people in this Town live on B roads and housing estates. I live on a housing estate. It was eight days before we saw a gritting lorry. A few years ago each village and town had bins of grit and salt at vantage points around the parish. A local farmer went out with a tractor and trailer, two men stood on the trailer and spread the grit and salt onto the pavements and footpaths as well as the roads.
Much has been written about the media and the paparazzi taking photographs of the Royals out shooting on the Sandringham Estate over Christmas and New Year. In 1961 I was on leave from the Army, having a drink in my local when a smart looking gentleman came up and asked me if I knew my way around the Estate. I said that I did and for the next four days drove the man around whilst he sat in the back seat taking photos of the Queen and the shooting parties. He worked for the Daily Mail and paid me £5 a day, a great deal of money in 1961. After four days he went back to London. We took the Mail every day for the following week, but there were no pictures of the Queen or any of the shooting parties. The photographer’s expedition into the wilds of Norfolk was obviously a failure – but I was very happy with my reward!
So, at last, a planning application for flats and shop units has been put in for the old Kit-Kat site. Not exactly what is wanted on this site. There are already too many blocks of flats around the town and as for shops, we have had them in Seagate and Beach Terrace before but they could never be made to pay and had to close down. By the way, the Application should read Number 9 and 11 Seagate, not Seagate Road.
Now, just a fact or two about the old Kit-Kat. Whenever it is mentioned in the press it is always called the Kit-Kat Club. It was never a Club. It was opened in 1932 -34 by the late Horace Brooks as a Public House with a restaurant and Ballroom. It was converted from two large houses, Seagate House and Olive House. When it was advertised it was always called the brightest and biggest pub in West Norfolk. A Club it never was!!
The Kit-Kat was sold in 1987 and after being shut for a while it was opened up again under new ownership as the Sands Nightclub. It was closed in 1996 and in 1998 was destroyed by fire. The site was cleared in 2002.
Talking about the Kit-Kat, how many of you remember the fish and chip shop that was attached to it, just around the corner in Seagate Road? In those days there weren’t many fish and chip shops in the town as there are today. Brooklands was situated in Beach Terrace near to where Thomas’ Bingo is today. Charlie Mann ran a shop in Le-Strange next to what is now the Wash and Tope – in those days it was the Railway Hotel. Fishers has been opposite the Town Hall for many years as has the shop opposite the Church. One of the first shops in the Town was half way up Chapel Lane. That one was run by the Hastings family who also had a guest House in Westgate. In Kelly’s Directory for 1925, Mr Thomas Hastings is mentioned as a fried fish and chip dealer, at the rear of Westgate. At one time, in the late 50’s early 60’s, when the coach Park was in The Pit (now the Tesco Supermarket), there was a small fish and chip shop/café in a wooden shed. Today there must be over ten fish and chip shops around the Town.
Just a few more memories from an old fisherman and wildfowler. Off Brancaster, the terns, screaming and diving for whitebait being pursued by the mackerel shoal. Caught 83 mackerel in two hours then sold them for 1/- each in the pub in Thornham. A good sport and pocket money. Some of them weighed two pounds and ought to have made 1/6. Mackerel, fresh mackerel. At the Brightgirdle Buoy there is the best tope fishing around the coast. The tidal flood drives the fish into the bays here. Coke from his obelisk at Holkham looked over the sandhills used for the Peenemunde Rocket and a nudist camp. A police sergeant, sent to investigate, was invited to strip off and join in. 2000 geese used to fly onto the Holkham Marshes passing over the sandhills at dawn, returning to roost on Stiffky High Sands at dusk. On moonlit nights they returned to stay all day, mostly pink feet, some whitefronts after Christmas. A few bean, the brent and barnacle stayed on the tide line – they were punt gunners quarry. One old boy got 100 in one week. Everyone who aspired to shoot a goose came to Wells. It was the wildfowlers Mecca, their first goose an epoch making event. Long before dawn windows in Wells would light up and shadowy figures would emerge. Professional guides placed their clients in the sandhills, the geese were usually very high up and heavy armament was necessary to bring them down. Guns varied from a double 4 bore, 8 and 10 bores and one man shot one down with a 4.10 on a stubble field.
Well, that’s about all for now as I look out of the window it is still snowing but a thrush is scraping about in the bottom of the hedge so Spring must be on the way.