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Fakenham is a town and civil parish in Norfolk, Englandmarker. It is situated on the River Wensummarker, some north east of King's Lynnmarker, south west of Cromermarker, and north west of Norwichmarker.

The civil parish has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of 7,357 in 3,292 households. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of North Norfolk.

The name Fakenham is Saxon, possibly meaning Fair Place/Place on a Fair River, or Hamlet (Ham) on the river (Ken) Fa/Fair (Fa).


In 1086 (Domesday Book) Fakenham had only 150 residents. Hemptonmarker, on the opposite side of the river, was the larger community and had an abbey that played host to pilgrims on their way to Walsinghammarker. Fakenham became the dominant centre when the abbey was abolished by Henry VIII.It has been a market town since 1250, when it was given a Charter. The stalls probably occupied space around the parish church of St.Peter & St.Paul. Fakenham's modern-day Thursday market is still situated very close to its original positioning and around the market place.

Its major industry in the 19th and 20th centuries was printing, but the major printworks (Cox and Wyman) closed in the 1970s. Nevertheless, there are still more than ten small printing firms in industrial premises around and near the town. A large number of printing blocks have been set into the surface of the market place as a memorial to this lost industry.

Recent history

In the late 1990s the town was listed by a contributor to the knowhere guide as "the most boring place on Earth". The contribution was specifically referring to Wednesday afternoon which is 'early closing' in Fakenham. This comment, made by an individual, was taken and quoted out of context as "voted the most boring place on Earth" and very rapidly the story was running in national newspapers with the town council defending the town and spending considerable time, money and effort trying to prove that this was not the case.

Recent investment in Fakenham has seen the town centre being renovated and pedestrianised. It now enjoys a popular farmers' market on the morning of the 4th Saturday of each month.

The town was the base for North Norfolk's very first independent commercial radio station (albeit temporary) in August 1997 ( Fakenham Town Radio). Other temporary services followed, between November 1998 and May 2001, including FCR 107.2 and Central Norfolk Radio.


A map of Fakenham from 1946
Historically, Fakenham had two railway stations. Fakenham West railway stationmarker was on the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, and closed in 1959. The site is now a builders' depot, although 20 feet of the platform has been preserved. Fakenham East railway stationmarker was on the Great Eastern Railway and closed in the 1960s although goods trains carried on until the 1980s. This station site is now sheltered housing.

Although now without a railway, the Mid-Norfolk Railwaymarker plans to return trains to the town, and intends to build a new station near the gas works. The line would link Fakenham to East Derehammarker, Wymondhammarker and Norwichmarker. Sections of the former railway lines have been protected from development that would be prejudicial to the creation of railway transport links by North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council.

Another scheme, the Norfolk Orbital Railway plans to link the town to the coast at Sheringhammarker.

Youth and Community Provision


The first school in the town was the National School for Boys which opened in 1839. The second, provided by the British School Society, was built in 1844. A National School for Girls followed in 1848.

In 1913 a council school was built on Queen's Road to replace these and all the children moved there, being separated into the boys', girls' and infants' schools provided within the one complex.

In 1944 the Queen's Road school was converted into a "primary and secondary modern school", but the growth of the town was putting a lot of pressure on the available space. In 1956 a new secondary modern school was built on Field Lane, opening in 1959.

The town is presently served by a purpose-built infant school, a junior school on Queen's Road, a high school on Field Lane plus a sixth form college.


1st Fakenham Scouts were established on the 3rd May 1923, with their headquarters listed as being on Bridge Street. The group was re-registered on 21 October 1948 as part of the North West Norfolk District. At this time the group was meeting at the Congregational Schoolroom on Norwich Road, which is now part of an antique centre. On 1 April 1968, 1st Fakenham Scout Group, now a part of the Fakenham District, asked for permission to change their name to Fakenham Wensum Scout Group. Fakenham Wensum Scout Group still offers scouting to young people aged 6 to 14, on behalf of the Scout Association.

2nd Fakenham (Salvation Army) Scout Group were first registered on 10 February 1954, meeting in the Salvation Army Hall on Oak Street. 2nd Fakenham closed in 1969, with the remaining Scouts and leaders joining Fakenham Wensum.

In February 2008 the Baden-Powell Scouts opened Fakenham Lancaster Baden-Powell Air Scouts, giving the town two active Scout groups for the first time in 39 years. This group is presently based at the Fakenham Children's Daycare Centre, offering Traditional Scouting to young people aged 5 to 25.

Girl Guides

The Girl Guides Association has two active Groups in the town. One meets at the Methodist Church Hall, with the other using the Scout Association's headquarters in the town.

Air Training Corps.

The town is the home of 2534 Squadron, Air Training Corps, who parade on Mondays and Wednesdays at Fakenham College.

Army Cadet Force

The Britannia Army Cadet Force parade at their headquarters, which is at Fakenham High School.

EP Youth

EP Youth is the working name for the Ekklesia Project, a charity working with young people and their families in the Fakenham area. As part of their support, they provide free water, tea, biscuits, information, help and advice from a converted London bus parked in the market place on Friday evenings.

Fakenham Young Carers

This club is funded by Norfolk County Council Children's Services, and meets every other Monday during term time at the Fakenham Salvation Army hall, also providing activities and trips during the school holidays. This club is a service provided for young carers, aged 11 to 19.

Fakenham Town Band

Fakenham Town Band is a thriving traditional brass band based in Fakenham. It was established in 1881 and has enjoyed continuous existence since. The main focus of the band is to provide entertainment for the local community and for the personal pleasure of the players. To maintain and increase the standard of playing and provide a challenge, the band also enjoys contesting. Practices are held every Monday and Thursday evening in Trap Lane Pavilion, Fakenham.


Attractions in the town include a national hunt racecoursemarker, the Museum of Gas and Local History, a small cinema, 6 Lane Tenpin Bowling Centre, a flea market held every Thursday, a farmers' market held monthly. The town is well placed to act as a base for exploring north Norfolk being approximately 15 kilometres from the coast at Wells-next-the-Seamarker, 30 kilometres from King's Lynnmarker and 35 kilometres from Norwichmarker.

Notable people

Famous people from Fakenham include:

Other notable people from the town include footballing brothers Ryan Jarvis and Rossi Jarvis formerly of Norwich City and Adam Tann who plays for Notts County was from Fakenham.

Popular Culture

Fakenham is the alias that the character Redmond Barry adopts after deserting his regiment and impersonating a messenger in the Stanley Kubrik movie Barry Lyndon.

See also


  1. Ordnance Survey (2002). OS Explorer Map 251 - Norfolk Coast Central. ISBN 0-319-21887-2.
  2. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Retrieved December 2, 2005.
  3. History of Fakenham
  4. "Inside Information in Fakenham" from The Knowhere Guide
  5. Radio Authority/Office Of Communications (OFCOM)
  6. North Norfolk District Council Strategic transport network
  7. Norfolk Orbital Railway website
  8. Scouting in Fakenham

External links

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