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Hunstanton 20th anniversary of Victorian pier fire which caused remains' total demolition

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Last Tuesday’s All Our Yesterdays in the Lynn News reminded readers that May 18 marks the 20th anniversary of a fire, which led to the total demolition of all that remained of Hunstanton’s iconic Victorian pier.

Of course, as the “May Memories” photograph revealed, inappropriate additions to the original structure, carried out in 1957 and 1963, obscured views of the actual pier long before most of it collapsed into the sea on January 11, 1978.

In spite of its neglected appearance, in 1975 Hunstanton Pier, along with Cromer Pier, was designated a Grade II Listed Building.

Hunstanton in Bloom sign 2022.
Hunstanton in Bloom sign 2022.

Both piers took a battering in the 1978 storm, but whereas Cromer lost its amusement arcade, while the pier itself was swiftly repaired; Hunstanton retained its amusement arcade on The Green, but no attempt was made to restore the pier!

I may have gained something of a reputation over the past 20 years for “banging on” about this anomaly, but along the way there have been others who have not been slow in pointing out the need for past mistakes to be corrected before our town can move forward.

This reminds me that I am still awaiting news of Hunstanton’s embryonic advisory board.

It is probably wishful thinking on my part, but it has occurred to me that someone might be studying the archives and has uncovered the fact that since 2007 borough council policy has actually been to reinstate Hunstanton pier on its original footprint!

According to Nick Daubney, when he was the borough leader, and I was just another impatient town councillor, the 2008 recession was responsible for the delay in implementing this particular policy!

Since then the borough council has done its best to bury the pier, quite literally, by planting four stumps of the original structure in the Time & Tide flower bed.

Years before this apparent attempt to consign our pier to the history books, a single stump had been saved from landfill by the late Peter Mallam, a former Town Mayor.

He looked after it at his coffee kiosk on the north promenade until the ‘In Bloom’ team created a ‘Pier Flowerbed’ to the north of the hangar-shaped structure, currently attempting to pass itself off as Hunstanton Pier!

This eyesore on the seashore quite literally puts the flowerbed in the shade, but not only was the site missing out on the sun, it recently came to my attention that a small plaque describing the lost pier had itself gone missing!

Luckily, my very good friend, David Jones was able to provide a photograph of the object, which packs a lot of information into a very small space.

This was sent to Chris Durham at the borough, and last Friday I was delighted to see that a new sign had been installed. If only it was as easy as this to bring back a real pier!

John Maiden

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