The start of Beach Farm
Our story begins long ago, back around 1915 when a young family from Swaffham moved into the area.
This family, the Plumbs, became tenants of an area of land and a farm building. Nowadays, this area of land is now known as Wild Ken Hill, the significant rewilding project that borders our campsite. Saying that, you can probably guess what the farm buildings are these days.
Thus began the Plumbs' ownership of Beach Farm, a quaint yet spacious plot of land right by the sea. This was back before there was even a sea enbankment to defend the site, so the Plumbs had the sea lapping at their doorstep. At this time, they found multiple uses for the farmyard, but found that the most lucrative by far was to open it up for use for early-style caravans. Back in those days, these were more gypsy caravans than the accommodation we know them as today.
In all reality, the timing couldn't have been better, despite the First World War raging at the time. The early twentieth century saw a boom in camping and seaside holidays, marked by books and articles release about camping at the turn of the century. There was also a National Camping Club started in 1906 that gained traction considerably in a short amount of time.
The Plumbs, with Beach Farm right on the coast, were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the boom in this new holidaying opportunity. In their tenancy of Beach Farm, the Plumbs brought prosperity to Heacham via their fostering of the tourist industry. A few decades after their start, during World War 2, the Plumbs bought more land in response to the "Dig for Victory" campaign, which encouraged plots of land to be turned into allotments so people could grow their own food at a time of strict rationing.
The Dig for Victory campaign meant practically any spare patch of ground in the country was used for growing vegetables
The land they acquired was mainly wasteland and saltmarshes situated between South Beach and North Beach road in Heacham, which they levelled, drained, and used to grow crops to help in the war effort. Following the war, the Plumbs found more prosperity in providing places to stay, and so concentrated on setting up a caravan park on this land.
In turning their focus to making a caravan park, they sold on their interest in Beach Farm onto another young entrepeneur. Their other interests continue to this day under the Heacham Holidays name, running four parks in the area and still in the hands of the Plumbs, with Stephen and Estelle Plumb running the business!
Heacham owes a lot to the Plumbs, not least of all this beautiful campsite!
If not for the Plumbs' entrepreneurial spirit and continued dedication to stewardship of their estate, Heacham would likey not be what it is today. Heacham's key industry is and has historically been tourism, and tourism has brought the resources and buzz in to keep local shops and pubs operational. Few villages of Heacham's size can boast about having 3 pubs, 2 convenience stores, 3 fast food outlets, and an indian takeaway, among other things!
Now, at mYminibreak, we operate from the roots of this history, and aspire to live up to the Plumbs' legacy and continued dedication that they have given Heacham. Of course, there is more to the story of Beach Farm before it came into our hands...
A change of ownership
The aforementioned young entrepreneur that bought Beach Farm from the Plumbs was one Thomas Raines who, like the Plumbs, decided to capitalise on the tourist trade, continuing to operate a camping and caravan site under the name Staithe Farm alongside the surrounding sites ran by a variety of similarly-minded business owners; such as Mr Jennings, who developed what is now the Jennings Caravan site in 1935, and an enterprising un-named businessman who started "Beacham's" at North Beach, using a combination of the words "beach" and Heacham.
Raines continued to develop the site after buying it from the Plumbs, an endeavour that clearly went well, judging by this Aerial Photo from 1953 showing the site in full swing.
In those days the area was Salt Marsh, the Aerial Photo shows the trend of the time between 1890 - 1940 and the building of sea embankment to hold back the high tide, Something which was heavily reinforced after the 1956 floods across east Anglia and in particular, the fens and lowlands that surround the wash.
The Plumbs developed the land in the middle of this photo. Meanwhile, Mr. Raines worked on the triangular campsite to the right, keeping it busy and serving guests!
In the image below, you can see the request of Mr Raines for a supply of fresh cold water for his campsite, something which nowadays one can find extremely difficult, as a campsite ultimately is residential use and hoops with the local council and water authorities need to be jumped through to obtain, however, thanks to Mr Raines, we can enjoy fresh drinking water for our mYminiBreak Campsite, Camping at South Beach.
Staithe Farm, South Beach Road, Heacham
Since the 1800s the coastline of England has been a Mecca For townsfolk to visit and enjoy fresh air open skies, gentle waves and a paddle or swim in the sea. New Hunstanton was formed on the back of this trend and as such a place like Heacham became a slightly unknown venue for the non Gentry to visit and enjoy the same releases from normal hardworking life.
It's early hours in 1936, Mr Raines farmer who worked the most western farm on the west coast of Norfolk applied to the water board for a permanent water supply for his campsite. This was the formation and start of our current venue mYminiBreak Campsite, Camping at South Beach which continues -dry cough- which continues Mr Raines to supply holidaymakers with a retreat from city and town living, close to the beach to benefit from fresh air blowing in off the Norfolk coast surrounded by countryside with the ability to walk, cycle, paddle and swim in the local sea.
Our Historic Campsite at South Beach
Also known historically as 'Staithe Farm Heacham' and 'South Beach Farm'. Photos of the land show the campsite was one of the pioneering campsites in Heacham, with the most densely populated caravans and tents in the area. There at the creation of Heacham's most prominent and buoyant industry offering accommodation to holidaymakers and there was Mr Raines, busy making these pioneering steps along with Jennings caravans and what is now Long Acres Caravan Site.
The strong evidence that the 1953 floods had very little impact on our venue due to the natural geology landscape of the venue put on an incline to the surrounding areas. Our position is a good 2m higher than surrounding static caravans and the location of this farm was positioned on the hill Surrounded by marsh flats in previous centuries before drainage took place. With the sea lapping the sea defences of the door of the farm the embankment around our venue was probably one of the original sea embankments if not the original sea embankment built on the west coast of Norfolk.
Norfolk and the East Coast of England have an abundance of roads and farms named after the inlet of an estuary where fishermen gather to land their catch. "Staithe Farm" was our original name as the most western farm in west Norfolk that bordered the sea the boundaries of the farming marshland with an embankment built to stop high tides over top into the farmland. Aerial photos of 1953 show the campsite in full use and very popular it is believed that the campsite due to its natural position of height was largely unsaved from the 1953 notorious floods.
Around 1920/30 Mr Rains was the resident of the farm, he followed the trend that a few of his neighbours were following, in capitalising on tourists which had presently been encouraged to attend the area. Documents from public archives show that a request was made to supply fresh water to the farm for a new development caravan site. By this time the farm had become known as "Raines Campsite"
Now in 2022, we are known as mYminiBreak Hunstanton Camping & Glamping, our rural location offers back-to-basic camping -as it has always done- only now we also offer Glamping Bell Tents, Glamping Shepherds Huts, Self-catering Chalets, B&B Cottages and Self Catering Cottages.
We have come a long way from our humble beginnings of the Early 20th century, we will continue to offer holidaymakers an opportunity to visit the Norfolk Coast the way they have done for many years - for many more years to come!
History of Hunstanton
Hunstanton began its life as a prominent seaside town in 1845. Henry Le Strange, a local land owner, envisioned opening a resort to the south of Hunstanton, now 'Old Hunstanton'. Le Strange designed his bathing resort around a triangular green in the centre of town facing out over The Wash, a raised picturesque spot to see the sun rise and fall over the same horizon in the height of summer.
Building started in 1846, with the first building, The New Inn, now The Golden Lion Hotel, Henry knew that to get holidaymakers to New Hunstanton, public transport would be needed and it wasn't until 1862 that a train line from Kings Lynn to Hunstanton was built. This created a boom of Hunstanton visitors, allowing day trippers from Kings Lynn to take a trip to the seaside. The main attractions would have been the iconic red and white Hunstanton Cliffs, the calm seas of The Wash and the endless miles of sandy beaches. Far from their working lives, holidaymakers flocked to Hunstanton to breathe our fresh air and relax with their families.
Present-day Hunstanton is a quintessential seaside destination, with many independent shops, cafes, and family-friendly entertainment and attractions. Our town attracts people from far and wide, all hoping to enjoy a few days respite by the beach, with our calm shallow seas, Hunstanton is ideal for watersports, building sandcastles and still offers old-fashioned donkey rides on the beach. Visiting Hunstanton will be like going back in time to a place where your cares are forgotten and all that matters is the sun sea and sand.
The first seaside piers were built in England in the early 19th century. Originally constructed as simple wooden landing stages for boat trips, piers later developed into complex entertainment venues, with ornate pavilions, delicate ironwork, and exotic lighting. A whole range of entertainments and attractions could be found along a pier’s length, from theatres to penny arcades, from ballrooms to bowling alleys. Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier was built in 1858 the wooden structure was used for evening band performances and open-air concert parties. As Great Yarmouth grew in prominence as a holiday destination, the wooden structure was replaced by a steel construction, housing a 2000-seat pavilion. Hunstanton Pier Designed by J.W. Wilson, opened in 1870. In 1882, paddle steamer services were made available across the Wash to the new Skegness Pier. The ‘handsome and commodious pavilion’, added in the 1890s, was destroyed by fire in 1939 and was not replaced.
After World War II, the pier housed a roller-skating centre and a small zoo. A miniature steam railway, powered by a Bassett-Lowke engine, ran the length of the pier. The line was dismantled in the 1950s. The seaward end fell into disuse but, at the shoreward end, a two-storey amusement building (replacing an old arcade and cafe) was completed in 1964. On 11th January 1978, a storm destroyed most of the pier and a small section at the end was removed some weeks later. The shoreward end amusement arcade survived, along with one set of piles, to remind people of what had arguably been East Anglia’s finest pier. However, in 2002, the entire building, as well as the remains of the pier, were destroyed in a fire. Today, a new arcade and bowling alley complex occupy the site, but although the building is still referred to locally as the ‘Pier’, there is nothing left that could be described as a pier. The complex does off great family entertainment and is still a wonderful place to sit and reflect on what was a spectacular victorian pier.