Explorer It’s been a popular tourist destination since 1846, and today it’s better than ever. Charlotte Thorneycroft visits Hunstanton...
PICTURE: J MAXTED
Hunstanton, Hunst’on, Sunny Hunny takes its name from the River Hunn which begins in the grounds of Old Hunstanton Park although some say it comes from ‘Honeystone’ the name that used to be given to the local Carr stone.
It was during the nineteenth century that the British seaside took off and in 1846 Henry Styleman Le Strange, as the principal land owner in the area decided to develop the area to the south of Old Hunstanton as a bathing resort, thus becoming (new) Hunstanton. The first building erected was, what is now, The Golden Lion overlooking The Green which slopes from the town down towards the promenade. Bands regularly play on the bandstand here and attract large audiences, as do car shows held on The Green which has also become a hot spot meeting place for bikers during the summer. Le Strange soon persuaded other investors to join him in a venture to link King’s Lynn and Hunstanton via a rail line which would bring more visitors to the area. The railway was finished in 1862, reaching its peak in the 1950’s. It declined after this time when larger connecting stations closed eventually leading to the closure of the Hunstanton to King’s Lynn line in 1969. Victorian Hunstanton had an 830ft pier that was opened in 1870 with a pavilion added in the 1890’s. This was unfortunately damaged by fire in 1939 and again in the 1950’s but it was a great storm in 1978 that destroyed most of the pier leaving little more than the amusement arcade and cafe at the entrance. Fire once more waved a wicked hand of fate on the pier in 2002 when the whole building (and what little that remained of the pier) was completely destroyed. Today a large amusement arcade and bowling centre stands on the site still affectionately known as ‘The Pier’.
Without doubt the beach at Hunstanton (which was awarded a blue flag in 2010) is one of best features of the town offering a vast expanse of open sand and miles of undisturbed horizon. Spectacular sunsets over The Wash are common and last longer than other West facing towns providing time for an attractive evening stroll. Old Hunstanton’s rolling sand dunes are the site for the town’s annual sandcastle competition, with a variety of watersports enjoyed across the beaches including kite surfing and parasailing. During the summer as crowds begin to flock to the seaside resort the stripy deckchairs come out and the donkeys wait ready for young riders giving the complete traditional British seaside experience.
KLmagazine March 2011
Published on Mar 1, 2011