The small town of Hunstanton on Norfolk's north-west coast has the unusual claim to fame of being the only seaside town in East Anglia that faces west. The town, at the mouth of the Wash, lies on the sharp bend in the coastline that marks the eastern end of the Wash, an area of tidal semi-marshland formed by the rivers which pour into it at one end and the sea that shapes the sand and shingle at the other. The many dangerous shoals typical of the area present a hazard to shipping leaving or approaching the ports of King's Lynn, Sutton Bridge, Wisbech and Boston, especially at times of strong wind and gales from the north-west, north or north-east. The sandbanks form the main hazard to shipping in the area and are as treacherous to sea users today as they were when a lifeboat was first stationed at Hunstanton in the nineteenth century.
NICHOLAS LEACH is one of Britain's foremost lifeboat experts, having written many volumes on our lifeboat heritage. He lives and works in Birmingham and is Deputy Editor of Ships Monthly. He has previously written Orkney's Lifeboat Heritage, Sennen Cove Lifeboats: 150 years of Lifesaving, Cromer Lifeboats 1804-2004, Fowey Lifeboats: An Illustrated History, Wells-Next-the-Sea Lifeboats, The Lifeboat Service in Ireland, Rosslare Lifeboat and Never Turn back: Caister Lifeboats for Tempus Publishing.
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