Turnstone, by John Maidem, February 16, 2016

john maiden
john maiden

When telephones were used for transmitting verbal messages and cameras contained rolls of film, I got by.

Nowadays I find myself surrounded by people who can take pictures with their mobile phones and transfer them to my laptop while I am still thinking about it.

Such was the case when the Lynn News asked me to cover the removal of the whale that sadly died at the foot of Hunstanton Cliffs. On this occasion the person who helped me out was a young polish lady called Iwona Szucs. This explains how three of her photographs came to appear in the Lynn News on February 2.

Iwona did say she would be moving home from west Norfolk to Nuneaton the next day, but her whale pictures were still on my laptop within hours. I sent an email thanking her as soon as they arrived, but pushed my luck a bit further by asking her to take some pictures of Nuneaton railway station, because it brought back memories of a train journey made more than half a century ago.

I spent most of my national service at RAF Wythall, a few miles south of Birmingham. An entry in my diary for Saturday, June 21, 1958, reads: “Left camp at 5.10am and cycled to Nuneaton. It rained continuously throughout the ride and it was still raining when I caught the special excursion train that arrived in Hunstanton at 12.30pm.” Possibly the soaking suffered earlier in the day prompted me to mention the film I went to see at the Capitol cinema in the evening, because it was called: “Don’t go near the water.”

However the next day I did go near the water, at the Blue Lagoon swimming pool, before leaving Hunstanton on the 8.20pm train. After arriving back in Nuneaton at 1am I then cycled the 22 miles back to RAF Wythall and slept from 4am to 8am. Apart from reminding me just how fit I was in those far off days, the extract from my diary provides a snapshot of a golden age of steam, when our town was still connected to the national rail network, offering people from the midlands a chance to visit the seaside without getting held up in jams on the A149!

My very good friend Brian Holmes has done more than anyone to remind locals and visitors alike of the benefits the railway brought to Hunstanton, and no doubt people will be enthusing over the displays he has put together in the Heritage Centre when it reopens from noon to 3pm this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow night at 7.30pm in the Town Hall Brian will give an illustrated talk on another topic close to his heart, and one that affected his life from a very early age. His subject, Boulton & Paul, will almost certainly include everything from the famous Defiant aircraft to the shelter recently moved from Chapel Bank to Lighthouse Lane. The presentation is hosted by Hunstanton & District Civic Society. Admission is £1 members, £3 non members.