On the tourist trail

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Good things are worth waiting for, although I must confess I am likely to become a little bit impatient over the next 12 months as the Stories of Lynn historic attraction at Lynn Town Hall takes shape.

The reason for my impatience – nay, suppressed excitement – is that the project has the potential to be one of the biggest attractions in the East of England, and one that will considerably enhance the town’s well-established status as a tourist destination.

The recent removal of many of the town’s treasures to Norwich cleared the way for the major transformation of the town hall, culminating in the opening of the new attraction at Easter 2016.

The town hall has been at the heart of Lynn life since medieval times, and it is somewhere that I have regarded with affection and admiration for most of my working life.

On my very first day working at the Lynn News and Advertiser in June 1967, my first job was to cover Lynn Magistrates Court, then conducted in rooms inside the town hall.

That was the beginning of a long association with the town hall for me. Not only was it where I covered courts, but also borough council meetings (long evenings, followed by typing up reports, sometimes into the early hours, at the old Lynn News office on the opposite side of Purfleet Street to the current premises).

Then there were the numerous grand occasions and meetings for which the Stone Hall at the town hall provided a magnificent setting. Truly this was, and still is, a building at the very heart of the town.

Which is why the Stories of Lynn exhibition is full of promise in so many ways. The town has a fantastic history which can finally be showcased in all its glory in such a wonderful setting.

Lynn has already received much favourable national coverage in recent years for its historic buildings, and Stories of Lynn promises to be the jewel in the crown.

With the refurbishment of both the Tuesday and Saturday Market Places now complete, plus the major works at St Nicholas Chapel, the stage is surely set for Lynn to more than punch its weight on the tourist and visitor scene that makes a huge annual contribution to the local economy.

Critics will probably accuse the council of putting too much effort into tourism and not focussing on other areas, but that, to my mind, is unfair.

The historic projects have attracted a lot of Heritage Lottery grants that would not otherwise have come our way and benefitted West Norfolk, and the council have already demonstrated that they continue to make every effort to bring new industry to the area.

The fact it is so hard to attract fresh industry to our locality is mainly due to the poor road network – and the blame there lies with Norfolk County Council and Westminster.