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Turnstone Column: John Maiden discusses ‘unfortunate’ decline in Hunstanton’s character





In his weekly Turnstone column, Hunstanton writer John Maiden discusses the “unfortunate” decline in Hunstanton’s character...

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Hunstanton Society's history group in the heritage centre.

There, members took a keen interest in items discovered by members of E N Suiter's workforce, as they set about transforming the redundant primary school into residential units.

Sheila Kent, Andrew Murray and Susie Prendergast examine an old primary school admissions list at Hunstanton's heritage centre. Picture: Stephen Kent
Sheila Kent, Andrew Murray and Susie Prendergast examine an old primary school admissions list at Hunstanton's heritage centre. Picture: Stephen Kent

I know that my mother, who was born in May 1904, attended the school when it provided for pupils up to school-leaving age, which in my mother's day could have been as young as 12-years-old.

I know that one of the reasons why she disliked school was because some of the other pupils used to tease her, due to the fact that her mother, Judith Ann Garner, was a well known figure in the suffragette movement.

However, I soon became even more interested when Susie Prendergast (maiden name Weaving), a member of the history group, discovered her entry details in a much more recent register. Susie's mother only recently passed away at the age of 92.

A photo of Hunstanton's Capitol Cinema in the 1960s. It was brought back to life as the Princess Theatre
A photo of Hunstanton's Capitol Cinema in the 1960s. It was brought back to life as the Princess Theatre

It is comparatively rare to meet up with members of the Hunstanton Society with whom I can share childhood memories of my home town when it was a better place to live than it is now.

It might surprise some of these people, as well as those who visit the heritage centre asking why the town has lost so many of the very things that gave it so much of its character.

With a view to taking it to a future history group meeting, I have just dug out a two-page spread, written by a friend of mine called Tony Scase, for a free newspaper in 1981, called The Trader.

It leads with a piece about The Golden Lion having changed hands, with the new owner, Snowmountain Investments, hoping to put it back in the league of good class hotels.

I cannot remember what became of Snowmountain. Perhaps it fell victim to climate change caused by global warming!

This brings me to the headline of the article which reads: "Hunstanton Should Build On Its Character".

Unfortunately, 40 years after the article appeared in print, it is difficult to think of any new development, extension or conversion since 1981 that can honestly be said to reflect the character of Hunstanton in its glory days.

There are only the possible exceptions of the Princess Theatre and the current efforts to make the former county primary school protect and enhance the character and appearance of this part of the Hunstanton Conservation Area.



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