The world never stands still, and not only do fashions and technology change over the passage of time, but also our habits. Not only have traditional industries disappeared, but so has the traditional British seaside holiday that gave employment to thousands of Britons.
These two pictures illustrate how the world has changed. Above is Hunstanton railway station in August 1959, the last year when one could travel direct from Liverpool Street station in London to Hunstanton, via King’s Lynn. We see an apparently busy station with a D16 4-4-0 engine and coaches in a mixture of liveries. In the backgound is the Sandringham Hotel, by then in use as offices by Hunstanton Urban District Council.
At one stage there were direct express trains to another Norfolk resort, Cromer. In August 1959, the same month as the BMC Mini was launched, this world was already dying.
The decline of the King’s Lynn-Hunstanton Branch Line appears to have been rapid. After 1959 Hunstanton was left with a mainly Diesel Multiple Unit service to and from King’s Lynn. By 1966, services to London had been reduced to one working on weekdays, together with two up and one down on Summer Saturdays.
The King’s Lynn-Hunstanton Branch Line was not listed for closure in 1963 by the good Doctor Beeching, but British Rail deemed the line to be uneconomic and, despite attempts at rationalisation, the line closed in May 1969. The Sandringham Hotel had already been demolished in April 1967. The villain of the peace appears to have been the British public’s love affair with the motor car.
However, resorts like Hunstanton would face competition from cheap continental holidays as the 1970s dawned and apparently now Mr Average is likely to spend ten days in Spain rather than the UK for his summer holiday.
Meanwhile, the image below shows Hunstanton railway station as it is now, a car park. Back in 2008, a report on behalf of West Norfolk Council did investigate the possibility of reopening the Kings Lynn-Hunstanton Branch Line, but it was rejected on cost grounds.
The line from Cambridge to Kings Lynn is now electrified. The sheer cost of property in the Cambridge area has created a new type of commuter, so perhaps re-opening the King’s Lynn-Hunstanton Branch Line might be viable after all? Certainly the partial re-opening of the Waverley Line as the Borders Railway has exceeded all expectations, and recent data has suggested that car use has topped-out in the UK.
As stated at the top of the article, the world never stands still, and now the internet shopping revolution is changing our high streets as the traditional shop finds life hard going. Internet banking is being used as an excuse to close thousands of bank branches, affecting those who cannot get to grips with modern technology.
What does the future hold?