Queen opens new £5 million Wolferton pumping station
The Queen has opened a new multi-million pumping station, which officials hope will keep large parts of West Norfolk dry for decades to come, at Wolferton today.
The £5 million facility, which has been operating since last August, replaces a station which itself was opened by King George VI in 1948.
The Queen met senior officials and long-serving staff members during a short visit to the site, before being invited to press the red button and start the pumps.
Philip Calamile, chief executive of the Water Management Alliance – a group of five internal drainage boards across the region – said it was a "real honour" to welcome the monarch.
"It means a great deal to me, my members and my staff to have her open this station."
The facility is designed to protect people living in several nearby villages, including Sandringham, Wolferton, Snettisham, Dersingham and Ingoldisthorpe, together with thousands of acres of farmland.
Fully automated, the station is capable of dealing with up to three million gallons of water an hour.
Mr Camamile said the project to build the station, which has around twice the capacity of its predecessor, had developed following the 2013 tidal surge.
"It's not all about land. It's protecting people and property", he said.
During her tour, the Queen said it was "rather nice" to think of the area being a dry one.
She also saw the plaque which her father had unveiled at the old station almost exactly 72 years ago.
And, after signing the visitors' book, she was presented with a framed montage of photographs from the 1948 ceremony by Brian Long, chairman of the King's Lynn Internal Drainage Board.
Mr Long said the occasion made him "very proud."
He added: "For people in this part of the world, having drainage boards and the facilities they bring actually allows us to live and work and grow crops.
"Without the pumping stations, without the drainage, that simply wouldn't happen.
"I do hope the people of West Norfolk appreciate the value that you bring to this area, and also the facility that we provide in keeping people's feet dry."