From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
War Memorial, Fakenham
Grid reference: TF918296
Location: 52°50’8"N, 0°51’4"E
Population: 7,357  (2001)
Post town: Fakenham
Postcode: NR21
Dialling code: 01328
Local Government
Council: North Norfolk

Fakenham is a town in Norfolk, standing on the River Wensum, some 19 miles north-east of King's Lynn, the same distance south-west of Cromer, and 25 miles north-west of Norwich.

The civil parish at the 2001 had a population of 7,357 in 3,292 households.

The name Fakenham is Old English, possibly meaning “Fair Place” or “Place on a Fair River”.[1]


In 1086 (Domesday Book) Fakenham had only 150 residents. Hempton, on the opposite side of the river, was the larger community and had an abbey that played host to pilgrims on their way to Walsingham. 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.

The town’s 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 contributor Robert Woods to the Knowhere Guide as "the most boring place on Earth".[2] The contribution was specifically referring to Wednesday afternoon which is 'early closing' day in Fakenham. This comment, made by Woods, 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. Woods retracted his statement live on BBC Radio Norwich, saying that although Fakenham was boring, so too was toilet roll, and he wouldn't want to be without that either.

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 first independent commercial radio station, FTR FM, broadcasting for a short period between 4 and 30 August 1997, using a Restricted Service Licence to broadcast.[3] Other RSL radio stations followed, between November 1998 and May 2001, including FCR 107.2 and Central Norfolk Radio.[4]


A map of Fakenham from 1946

Once Fakenham had two railway stations. Fakenham West railway station 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 station 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 Railway 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 Dereham, Wymondham and Norwich. Sections of the former railway lines have been protected from development that would be prejudicial to the creation of railway transport links by the council.

Another scheme, the Norfolk Orbital Railway plans to link the town to the coast at Sheringham.[5]


Preserved Gas Works

Attractions in the town include Fakenham Racecourse and, bizarrely, the Museum of Gas and Local History.[6]

Sport and leisure

  • Football: Fakenham Town FC

Big Society

  • Scouts:
    • Fakenham Wensum Scout Group (1st Fakenham)
    • 2nd Fakenham (Salvation Army) Scout Group

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.

  • Girl Guides: several active groups; 1 Guide unit, 2 brownie units and 1 Rainbow unit.
  • Air Training Corps: 2534 Squadron, Air Training Corps, who parade at Fakenham College.
  • Army Cadet Force: The Britannia Army Cadet Force parade at their headquarters, which is at Fakenham High School.
  • Fakenham Town Band: a thriving traditional brass band based in Fakenham.[7] It was established in 1881 and has enjoyed continuous existence since.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Fakenham)