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John Maiden discusses Hunstanton Bus Station revamp in Turnstone column

In his weekly Turnstone column, John Maiden discusses a dead end road in town and a new bus station revamp...

Alexandra Road in Hunstanton fits the description of a dead end road in more ways than one. In addition to being a cul de sac, the road terminates at the town cemetery!

In recent years, people living along the road and those visiting the cemetery have lived with the possibility of a housing estate being built on an area of open space west of the road – which is often referred to as the sheep field.

The Westgate Gardens - just one part of Hunstanton's lost heritage
The Westgate Gardens - just one part of Hunstanton's lost heritage

This land was originally purchased for a future extension to the cemetery. A subsequent grazing licence was obtained, but in all the years I have lived within a mile of the cemetery, the only grazing I have witnessed has been done by wildlife.

This is one of the reasons why I have suggested from time to time that the field should become an urban forest.

When I offered my support to Alexandra Road residents who do not want their unmade road used for access to a new housing estate, one resident informed me that my support would be rather like praying to St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.

Needless to say, this made me wonder if such a comparison will appear on Turnstone's tombstone after I make my final journey down Alexandra Road...

Fortunately, it looks as if my own prayers to St Jude may have helped – just a little bit – in the new lease of life given to Hunstanton’s bus station, with Norfolk County Council investing £2million in a revamp.

This represents a complete change of direction from the original plan, which was to demolish the bus station and use the land for blocks of apartments. I remember how horrified I was 60 years ago when Hunstanton Urban District Council bulldozed the Westgate Gardens out of existence to make way for the bus station and a garage.

The loss of so many splendid trees in my home town, at a time when I was in my final year of a three-year teacher training course, must have stayed with me until I found myself teaching English at Hunstanton Secondary Modern School.

The year was 1970, which just happened to be European Conservation Year, and my students were busy writing letters to the Forestry Commission, asking for some trees to soften the appearance of the brutalist building in which they were learning to ask the right questions of anyone making decisions about their futures.

When 100 small trees arrived, the groundsman Mr Hunter created a nursery for them until they were ready to be planted round the playing field in 1973 – when the slogan was ‘plant a tree in 73 and plant some more in 74!’

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