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Memories of the old Blue Lagoon pool in Hunstanton and when Norwich City came to town

In his weekly Turnstone column, John Maiden shares his memories of the town...

Last Tuesday turned out to be rather special for me. It marked exactly 63 years of marriage to the Cheshire lass I fell in love with towards the end of that long, hot summer in 1959. Patricia was on holiday with her parents and the family chose to stay for a few nights bed and breakfast at my parents' house, 79 Westgate, which currently houses the Sue Ryder charity shop.

As with most of my home town, this part of Westgate has undergone considerable changes in my lifetime. Number 79 used to be named 'Portland House', but I never discovered why this was. Opposite, there used to be a row of substantial carrstone dwellings backing onto Ducker's Garage. Most of this land is now occupied by Sainsbury's store and customer car park.

The old Blue Lagoon when recently opened
The old Blue Lagoon when recently opened

Further up Westgate, the town's latest McCarthy & Stone development has replaced Swain's International, which occupied buildings erected in the 1960s to house Hunstanton Urban District Council. This brings me to last Tuesday's Lynn News 'Memory Lane' feature, which took readers back 40 years, to September 1983, and the name ‘Oasis’ being chosen, from 69 suggestions, for the utilitarian leisure centre to be built on some of the land formerly occupied by the Blue Lagoon open-air swimming pool. Apparently, Hunstanton Town Mayor, Charles Matkin, told the Lynn News that he would have preferred it to be called the Blue Lagoon.

My own preference was for the new leisure centre to include a swimming pool worthy of being named after the original Blue Lagoon. Would it be asking too much for this to happen when the Oasis has to be replaced? I am reminded of the Gerry Rafferty song: "If you get it wrong, get it right next time!"

Before leaving last week's Memory Lane, I must confess to getting a real buzz from seeing the photo of Greg Downs and Peter Mendham kicking off my SAFE - Soccer AS Family Entertainment - Project at Litcham High School in September 1983.

When Hunstanton 'Seagulls' Football Club played The Canaries, shortly after their Milk Cup victory in Spring 1985, the match on the Recreation Ground was sponsored by The Oasis. After the match, which ended: Hunstanton 0 Norwich City 20, Ken Brown and the City players visited The Oasis and were very impressed with the facilities on offer to the inhabitants and visitors of Hunstanton.

By way of a postscript, it is worth pointing out that instead of spending just one year away from the classroom, I spearheaded the SAFE Project for a total of six years, which included the launch of the first family enclosure at the old Wembley Stadium, as well as a meeting with "Roy of the Rovers" at the legendary Mel Park...

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