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King's Lynn is a town and port in Norfolk, Englandmarker. The town has been known variously as Bishop's Lynn and Lynn Regis, while it is frequently referred to by locals as simply Lynn, the Celtic word for lake.

King's Lynn is the third largest settlement in Norfolk, after the city of Norwichmarker and the town of Great Yarmouthmarker. Sandringham Housemarker, the Norfolk residence of the British Royal Family, is north-east of King's Lynn. It is known as the birthplace of George Vancouver (1757–1798), an officer in the Royal Navy, who was the first person to explore the Pacific coast of the modern day Canadian province of British Columbia; the American states of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon; and the southwest coast of Australia. It is also the place of the first school attended by Diana, Princess of Wales.



While it is believed there has been some form of habitation at King's Lynn for well over a thousand years, it was not until St Margaret's Church was founded in 1101 by Bishop Herbert de Losinga that the town started appearing on records. The town would originally have been named something like Llyn, after the Brythonic (Celtic) for "lake". Later, it acquired the prefix "Bishop's" as the town was part of the manor of the Bishop of Norwich in the 12th century.

By the 14th century, the town ranked as the third port of Englandmarker and is considered as important to England in Medieval times as Liverpool was during the Industrial Revolution. It retains two buildings that were warehouses of the Hanseatic League that were in use between the 15th and 17th centuries. They are the only remaining building structures of the Hanseatic League in England.

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, the town and manor became royal property. As a result, the town became renamed King's Lynn and Lynn Regis (which means the same thing in Latin); it was King's Lynn which stuck. The town became prosperous from the 17th century through the export of corn; the fine Customs House was built in 1683 to the designs of local architect Henry Bell. In 1708 an 11-year-old girl and her 7-year-old brother were convicted of theft of a loaf of bread in King's Lynn and sentenced to death by hanging , a sentence which was carried out publicly from the South Gates of the town to make an example out of them. At the time of the hangings, Sir Robert Walpole, generally regarded as having been the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, was Member of Parliament for King's Lynn.


The town went into decline after this period, and was only rescued by the relatively late arrival of railway services in 1847 – with services mainly provided by the Great Eastern Railway (subsequently London and North Eastern Railway) and its fore-runners (such as the Lynn and Dereham Railway). Train services operated between King's Lynn and Hunstantonmarker, Derehammarker and Cambridgemarker.

The town was also served by the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, which had offices in the town at Austin Street, and an important station at South Lynn (now dismantled) which was also its operational control centre until this was relocated to Melton Constablemarker. The M&GN lines were closed to passengers in February 1959.

Lynn was one of the first towns in Great Britain to be bombed from the air by a Zeppelin in 1915, the Savage's Iron Works, where aeroplane parts where being made, being the target.

Post war

In the post-Second World War period, King's Lynn was designated a London Expansion Town and its population roughly doubled as thousands of people were relocated from the capital.

In 1987, the town became the first in the UK to install town centre CCTV (though Bournemouthmarker had previously used CCTV in non-central locations). The single most numerous crime prosecuted as a result of this comprehensive system is men urinating in public on their way home at night from pubs.

In 2006 King's Lynn formally became Great Britain's first member of Die Hanse – the modern-day equivalent of the Hanseatic League.


The unparished urban area that makes up the town of King's Lynn has an area of and in the 2001 census had a population of 34,564 in 15,285 households. It is the main town in the larger district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

The constituency sits within the North-West Norfolk constituency. It has had an interesting electoral history. The MP from 1970 was Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler, who was a Conservative . In 1981, however, he defected to the new SDP. The 1983 general election was a massive Tory landslide for the wildly popular Margaret Thatcher in the aftermath of the Falklands War victory and the economic recovery; the once-near-certain SDP breakthrough never materialized, and instead, the Tory candidate Henry Bellingham was returned. By May 1997, the Tories were direly unpopular and in that year's Labour landslide, the Labour candidate George Turner defeated Bellingham on a huge swing of 10.4%. However, in 2001 North-West Norfolk was one of only nine Tory gains; Bellingham took back his old seat on a 4.6% swing. In 2005 he was returned with a vastly increased majority of 9,180 votes (18.1%)


King's Lynn is mainly on the east bank of the River Great Ousemarker close to where it flows into the Washmarker, 35 miles (55 km) north-east of Peterboroughmarker, 44 miles (70 km) west of Norwichmarker, and the same distance north of Cambridgemarker. Londonmarker lies about 112 miles (180 km) to the south. The Great Ouse at Lynn is about wide and the outfall for much of the drainage system created the Fensmarker (systematically drained from the seventeenth century onwards). It flows into the Washmarker, a bleak landscape of saltmarsh, shifting sandbanks and tidal flows. The much smaller Gaywood River also flows through the town, joining the Great Ouse at the southern end of South Quay close to the town centre.

A small part, known as West Lynnmarker, is on the west bank. Other districts of King's Lynn include the town centre, North Lynn, South Lynnmarker, Gaywoodmarker, North Woottonmarker, South Woottonmarker, and Fairstead.The best place to go in King's Lynn Is The Shed Skatepark (Lynnsport)!!!


Modern centre of King's Lynn
South Gate

Currently huge plans are under way to regenerate the entire town. King's Lynn has undergone a multi-million pound regeneration scheme. In 2005 the Vancouver Shopping Centre, originally built in the 1960s, was refurbished as part of the town centre regeneration project (which is planned for 'further' extension) which also saw a new £6 million multi-storey car park built, which has won several awards . And to the south of town a huge swathe of brown-field land is being transformed into a housing development (including contemporary apartments lining the River Narmarker), a business park, parkland, a school, shops and a new relief road in a £300 million+ scheme. The town's college will also be moving to this area (at a cost of £100 million) along with a possible Anglia Ruskin Universitymarker campus. A 250-berth marina, surrounded by apartments, hotel, shops, bars and restaurants is also planned.

Industry and commerce

The front of King's Lynn railway station
King's Lynn has always been a centre for the fishing and seafood industry (especially inshore prawns, shrimps and cockles). There have also been glass-making and small-scale engineering works (many fairground and steam engines were built here), and today it is still the location for much agricultural-related industry including food processing. There are a number of chemical factories and the town retains a role as an import centre. It is a regional centre for what is still a sparsely populated part of England.


King's Lynn railway stationmarker is the terminus of the Fen Line, and gives connections to Elymarker, Cambridgemarker and London King's Crossmarker. It is the only remaining station of several the town once boasted. South Lynn railway stationmarker closed to passengers in 1959.

Norfolk Green provides regular bus services to many surrounding towns and villages around Norfolk. The town is connected to the local cities of Norwich and Peterborough via the A47 and to Cambridge via the A10marker.

King's Lynn South Transport Scheme

A £7 million program to redevelop King's Lynn's Town Centre's infrastructure, due for completion in 2011. The majority of the money is provided by the Community Infrastructure Fund. The development program is a collection of smaller developments which are detailed below.

A cycle and busway between the town centre and South Lynn is planned to start construction in June 2010 at a cost of £850,000. .The route will be 720 metres long, running from Morston Drift to Millfleet, with buses travelling in both directions along it. It will also feature a separate path for pedestrians and bicycles, this path will meet the bus route when crossing the Nar sluice. As part of this development the Millfleet - St James' Road junction will be developed to better accommodate the envisioned increased bus and bike traffic.

A contraflow lane for bicycles will be built along Norfolk Street from Albert Street to Blackfriars Road, this will include a development of the Norfolk Road - Railway Road junction to better accommodate buses and bicycles. Similar work will take place at the Norfolk Street - Littleport Street junction so that buses do not get caught in the town centre gyratory system.

Bus priority measures will be added to four sets of traffic lights along St James' Road. This is being undertaken to give buses quicker access to the town centre and normalise journey times.

Southgates Roundabout is going to be developed. Many of the approach roads will be widened in the run up to the junction and the road markings will be redone in an attempt to improve lane discipline. Southgates Roundabout is a noted congestion hotspot by the county council and thus targeted by this scheme as a point to be developed.

Other small developments are taking place to make junctions more bicycle friendly.


The town has three secondary schools, educating students from the town and the surrounding areas: King Edward VII High School, The Park High Schoolmarker and Springwood High School. There is also The College of West Angliamarker (the largest further education campus in town).


The Lynn News is the local newspaper which is published twice a week, while the biggest selling regional morning newspaper in the country, the Eastern Daily Press, publishes a West and Fens edition daily from its district office in King's Lynn High Street. KL.FM 96.7 is the local commercial radio station. King's Lynn, along with most of North and West Norfolk, has officially been served by Yorkshire Television rather than Anglia Television since 1974. The area around King's Lynn receives a stronger signal from the Belmont transmittermarker in Lincolnshire than the Tacolneston transmittermarker in Norfolk. The Belmont transmitter was originally allocated to Anglia Television, but reallocated to Yorkshire Television in 1974 due to its UHF television broadcasts being clearly receivable in Hull and East Yorkshire. Relay stations were later installed to restore Anglia Television broadcasts to North and West Norfolk.

The town holds two festivals each summer, King's Lynn Festival and Festival Too. The latter is one of the top three largest free music festivals in Europe and is held on Tuesday Market Place: it has attracted crowds of more than 12,000. Past performers include Midge Ure, Deacon Blue, Suzi Quatro,10CC, Mungo Jerry, The Human League, The Buzzcocks, M People, Atomic Kitten, S Club and Beverly Knight. The King's Lynn Festival is primarily classical music; it is held in historic venues throughout town, and attracts big names from orchestras to opera and stage-plays. There are also literature and poetry festivals. The Guildhall stages many events and Shakespeare's company may have performed there.

Every year on St Valentine's Day, a travelling funfair called The Mart sets up in Tuesday Market Place for roughly a fortnight, after which it moves to other towns. Traditionally, this is the first funfair in the Showmen's calendar where new rides are tried and favourites brought out from winter storage. 500 years ago, Lynn had two marts and these were important trading fairs which would attract visitors from as far afield as Italy and Germany. Over the years trading fairs became less important and the Mart changed from a trading to a funfair. It also became annual. Also upon the Tuesday Market Place, the town holds several Vehicle Shows where the local car dealers display.
The Majestic Cinema

There are two cinemas in the town centre, the bigger the Majestic Cinema – a lovely building, which has been refurbished in the last few years. The Majestic had been the butt of jokes on the Scott Mills show on BBC Radio 1 due to an excited telephone voice recording. However the King's Lynn Arts Centre also shows films and performances, it is one of the Festival Too venues during the summer months.

The town centre has a large park (grade II listed — established in the 1700s) called The Walksmarker and a variety of pubs as well as two nightclubs, Heights and Chicago's.


King's Lynn F.C. football club (nicknamed "The Linnets") is in the Unibond League. Its ground is The Walks football groundmarker on Tennyson Road.

King's Lynn also has a motorcycle speedway team, the King's Lynn Stars, who race at the Norfolk Arena on Saddlebow Road. The track has operated since 1965 when it operated on an open licence. Speedway type events were staged at the stadium in the 1950s.

The successful basketball team College of West Anglia Fury, who compete in the second-tier English Basketball League, is also based in King's Lynn.

Twinned town

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of King's Lynn include:


  1. Anna Keay - Biography
  2. Simon Thurley - Biography

See also

External links

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