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Poppies in field near Weybourne June 2002
Weybourne is a fishing resort on the North Norfolk and has the postcode prefix of NR25. The village straddles the A149 coast road and is three miles west of Sheringhammarker, within the Norfolk Coast AONBmarker. Weybourne is mentioned in the Domesday book and in that survey it is called Wabrume. There are remains of an old Augustinian priory founded around 1200 AD on the site of a simpler Saxon church by Sir Ralph de Meyngaren (Mainwearing). By 1494 only a prior and three canons lived there. One canon complained that the priory was so poor it was unable to pay him his 20 shillings of annual pocket money. At another visitation in 1514 there was only a prior and one canon and this remained until King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of monasteries and priories.

The village is surrounded by well-ordered arable fields, woodland and heathland. The area is excellent for walking, enjoying the countryside and coast. There are opportunities to see wildlife and bird-watching is very popular.

Changes in government policy have discontinued management of coastal erosion in North Norfolk.

Amenities

The Ship public house
There is a shop, ‘’Weybourne stores‘’, and hostelries include The Ship public house, which serves fine ales and hot food most lunchtimes and evenings. A few minutes walk away from the village centre is the Maltings Hotel which provides bar meals and a restaurant, as well as accommodation. There are also several holiday lets.

World War II

Defence

Weybourne has long been considered a possible site for invasion, one reason being the deep water offshore. "He who would all England win, should at Weybourne Hope begin" During the Second World War defences were constructed around Weybourne as a part of British anti-invasion preparations of World War II. The beaches were blocked by landmines and extensive scaffolding barriers; further inland there were pillboxes, barbed wire entanglements, a long anti-tank ditch and other defences.

Weybourne Camp

During the Second World War, Weybourne Camp was a highly secret site and was an Anti-Aircraft Artillery range. This, along with a complementary camp at Stiffkeymarker, represented the main live firing training ranges for ACK-ACK Command in World War II. Here the Norfolk coastline became a controlled zone by the British forces. This controlled zone extended 10 km deep into the North Seamarker around Norfolk. Weybourne Camp was a vital part of this zone.

Weybourne Camp was visited twice by Winston Churchill in 1941. These visits took place immediately after the Dunkirk evacuation when British defences were on high alert. During his first visit, a demonstration of projectile firing was carried out, but the result was most unsatisfactory. The Prime Minister gave the commandant just seven days to improve the standard. On the second visit, each demonstration repeatedly ended in failure until finally, a Queen Bee pilotless target aircraft was shot down and crashed close to the VIP enclosure. History has it that all the senior staff were replaced the following day.

The strange tale of the German spy ring at Weybourne windmill

Weybourne Mill from the lane that leads to the sea and coastguards cottages


There is also a fine example of a tower windmillmarker that has been restored but not to its working condition. It was first built in 1850. Rumours surrounded the residents of the mill during the Second World War of spying for the Germans. Two local policeman were walking down the lane from the old coastguard cottages towards the mill at night when they both saw a light flashing from the top of the mill out towards the sea. Suspicions rose in the village about the man and his strange wife who lived at the mill.

The man living in the mill was a Mr Dodds and his wife apparently had a strong foreign accent which locals described as "like German or Austrian". Apparently nothing was done (which seems odd, given the wartime conditions and its closeness to Weybourne Camp), but seemingly it bothered one of the policemen and he went back out a couple of nights later and saw this again. The story goes that Mrs Dodds left her bicycle unattended outside the tennis court one day, and the bicycle fell over. A local picked the bicycle up and then the bag, which had fallen out of the basket. He took a look inside and found a radio transmitter. He told the police and a day or two later the authorities arrived and took the lady and her husband away.

Weybourne also had a watermill which can still be found on Beach Road.

The Muckleburgh Collection at Weybourne Camp

The Muckleburgh collection at Weybourne Camp


A popular attraction is the Muckleburgh Collection: the largest privately-owned collection of tanks, armoured cars and other military vehicles used in wars across the globe.




The North Norfolk Steam Railway

Weybourne railway station
Another local attraction is the North Norfolk Railwaymarker which runs from Sheringham through Weybourne to Holtmarker. Also known as the "Poppy Line", this marvellously-preserved steam railway cuts through the countryside to the east of Weybourne and passes through the delightfully-preserved country station which also houses a locomotive shed together with a carriage maintenance and restoration centre. Weybourne railway station is about 1,000 yards from the village centre. The station is signposted from the coast road; the turning is just opposite the church. The main station was built in 1900 although other structures, of the appropriate era, such as the signal box, waiting room and footbridge have been 'imported' from other locations. (BR, on the closure of the line, raised the station and track, apart from the main station building). Its main claim to fame is as the location of the Dad's Army episode, The Royal Train, although it is frequently used by other film-makers and artists. On the station there is a small shop and buffet selling sandwiches, soft drinks, coffee etc. Visitors can enjoy a cup of tea from the buffet and take advantage of the picnic area to watch the trains come and go. At weekends there is a bookshop selling a wide range of old railway books and magazines, together with railway videos and some CDs commemorating times past. The railway offers a 10.5 mile round trip by steam train (vintage diesel trains on some journeys) through a delightful area of North Norfolk designated as being of outstanding natural beauty.

The Coastline and Smuggling

At Weybourne the coast has an unusually steep shingle beach which was regarded as a vulnerable spot during the threat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The village was also a well-used location for smuggling items such as over-proof gin and pressed bales of tobacco. The coast between Sheringham and Weybourne was popular for landing goods because ships could anchor closer to the shore than anywhere else in the area. There was also a convenient gap in the cliffs through which goods could be easily transported. Local folklore says that the miller at the local windmill would stop the mill's sails in the form of a cross to warn the smugglers that the customs or coastguards were on to them; however if the coast was clear he would set the sails going once more. On Weybourne beach there was so little cover for the waiting land party that the men were reputed to bury themselves neck-deep in the shingle until the smuggling vessel appeared on the horizon. This story perhaps stretches the credulity to the limits, but the fact that it is also told of Suffolk locations adds at least a little weight. In the 1800s, William J. Bolding, the owner of Weybourne water millmarker and much of the inland areas at Weybourne, reputedly turned a blind eye to goods landed on the beaches bordering his property, and was rewarded with contraband left discreetly on his doorstep. In February 1837, a Lieutenant George Howes, and his men from Weybourne, intercepted a large gang of armed smugglers at nearby Kellingmarker. Many shots were exchanged and the coastguard men recovered five horses with carts which carried 540 gallons of Brandy and around 4,000 pounds of manufactured tobacco.

Volunteers manned the Rocket House and saved many lives from the ships wrecked along the Weybourne coast. The crew of the coal ship Emily however were not so lucky when it was lost. They all lost their lives except for the master who survived. In 1823 a brig from Naplesmarker, Italymarker, carrying a cargo of olive oil broke up, but six of her crew were saved. When the Norwegian barque, called Ida was wrecked, carrying pit-props to Cardiff, all the crew was rescued using a rocket line. The crew and some villagers salvaged some of the pit-props and it is said that many of these timbers survive in the barns and cottages around Weybourne to this day. In January 1915 the bodies of six sailors from the S.S. George Royal were washed up on Weybourne beach. There is a tombstone in the churchyard sacred to their memory. The Rocket House mentioned earlier still stands but is now a private residence.

Notable people



See also



References

  1. http://www.northnorfolk.org/coastal/documents/coastal_planning_leaflet.pdf
  2. Foot, William (2006). Beaches, fields, streets, and hills ... the anti-invasion landscapes of England, 1940. Council for British Archaeology. ISBN 1-902771-53-2, p139.
  3. Norfolk Mills - Weybourne watermill
  4. Smuggling in Norfolk & Lincolnshire


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