Turnstone, by John Maiden, February 14, 2017

The butterfly shlters of Hunstanton green.
The butterfly shlters of Hunstanton green.

At the recent public meeting in the Golden Lion, I produced a copy of the Hunstanton Citizen, which was a free newspaper published by the Lynn News.

On June 4, 1997, it was used by the borough council to inform local residents of a £1m project for Hunstanton. The aim was to improve our town for the local community and visitors.

The front page and the two centre pages were devoted to the proposed scheme, which was to be funded by an interest-free loan from central government.

The publicity paid dividends because, on Monday June 9, 1997, the town hall was filled to capacity with residents keen to have their say on the proposals.

The most memorable moment for me came when Elaine Bird compared the choices facing Hunstanton with those taken in Cape May, a resort on the east coast of the USA.

In the 1960s, a serious fire had destroyed many of its original Victorian buildings. The people decided not to replace them with modern buildings, choosing instead to rebuild in an architectural style that would retain Cape May’s original character.

Elaine thought similar choices should be made whenever the opportunity arose to restore Hunstanton’s unique character and appearance.

Unfortunately, without a major fire to focus attention on the desirability of preserving our town’s heritage, Hunstanton lost many of its finest buildings over several decades, with this trend starting in the 1960s.

The demolition of the Sandringham hotel, the swimming pool and the railway station amounted to nothing short of corporate vandalism.

The urban district council must take the blame for the first two and should have done more to retain our rail link, at the same time preserving our Victorian station.

Ironically, when it was revealed that the butterfly shelters were beyond economic repair, it was suggested – by the borough council – that they could be replaced in an architectural style reminiscent of our long lost railway station.

Similarly, when a bandstand was erected on the green in 1994, its design was such that it could have been there since 1894. This is why the shelters to the north and south of the green appear so out of place.

The only explanation offered for repairing these structures seems to be a decision of the Twentieth Century Society, based on one short visit by a member of staff.

This is in sharp contrast with the restoration of Lynn railway station, which earned praise when it was stripped of tasteless features and returned to its former glory, as it was in the 1950s.

What did the Twentieth Century Society think about that, I wonder? Will its staff be consulted if a decision is taken to demolish the former Beales department store in Lynn’s Vancouver Quarter?

Leaving these questions aside and returning briefly to 1997, it should be noted that, in spite of the applause given to Elaine Bird’s contribution, the project went ahead as planned.

The only change was the demolition of an iconic flight of steps and their replacement by a tasteless concrete ramp on the north promenade.

Perhaps we should prepare ourselves for similar surprises over the next few weeks as the contractors get stuck in.

Already the crazy golf has been stripped of its shrubs, leaving some bewildered sparrows looking for a new roost, while the butterfly shelters are awaiting a new roof.