A brief history of Hopton-on-Sea
To the East of Hopton was a village called Newton. There is no record of "St. Mary's Church at Newton", however, a Will made on 6 April 1526 by Alexander Smythe of Newton states "To be buried in the churchyard of "Our Lady" in Newton. His son, Nicholas Smythe of Corton requests the same, for his death, in 1557. The demise of Newton would have been by steady coastal erosion. Newton had been referred to as "Newton Cross", which may have been reference to a cross that stood on the green, set in a stone base. There is reference to the stone slipping into the sea about 1854 and the green had disappeared by 1873. Until recently a small triangular section of Newton remained in front of the Royal Air Force radar station on the clifftop.
Families in Hopton
Many notable families lived in Hopton. Sir Edmund Henry Knowles Lacon lived with his family and servants in Hopton House in 1851. He was part of the Lacon Brewing and Banking family. Admiral Sir James Hanway Plumridge CB MP born in London in 1787. After a distinguished career making Admiral in 1863. He lived with his family and servants in Hopton Hall in around 1860. He died in 1863 and was later commemorated in a stained glass window on the west side of the new St. Margaret's Church (the window is no longer there). Mr James Henry Orde lived in Hopton House around 1871. He is noted as Justice of the Peace for Suffolk. The Orde family had the new St. Margaret's Church built in the garden of their property of Hopton House in 1865/6 after the old St. Margaret's Church was destroyed by fire in 1865.
The first school at Hopton was a small shed on Station Road. Attendance by pupils was irregular as the children went to work in the fields three days a week. The school was originally known as The National School of Hopton, later becoming Hopton Voluntary Aided School. Hopton's boundary changed in 1974 from Suffolk to Norfolk and the school became known as Hopton-on-Sea Voluntary Controlled First School. At that time the name of the village also changed from Hopton to Hopton-on-Sea. In 1983 the number of pupils fell to 21 and there were fears of closure. However housing development took place and by 1985 the number of pupils had increased to 54, There are today (31.5.22) 180 plus pupils at Hopton-on-Sea CE Primary Academy standing on Coast Road. The building has been extended several times to accommodate growing numbers.
The railway of 1903 connected Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth via Hopton and Corton. In 1907 a station house and two railwayman's cottages were built. A bridge went across Station Road, which is now where numbers 27a, 27b and 27c Station Road are located. In 1932 the station was re-named Hopton-on-Sea.. The line closed in 1970 after passenger numbers had dwindled, and it was subsequently demolished. The station site no longer exists and has been replaced by housing on Potters Drive, Hopton Gardens and Groomes Close, but the Station House an workers cottages remain.
Hopton Holiday Camp (Groomes) opened in 1920 where Hopton Gardens and Groomes Close now stand. Herbert Potter set up a camp of chalets in 1925 in Hopton. Today Potters Leisure Resort on Coast Road is a 5* holiday destination. In 1928 Moody's (to the rear of the White Hart) and the Constitutional (on the cliff top which is now part of Haven Holiday Village) opened, followed by Golden Sands (which is now Sea View Rise) in 1932. Rogerson Hall Holiday Camp (now Broadland Sands) between Hopton and Corton opened in 1938.
The leisure industry was booming until WW2 when the holiday camps were requisitioned for the war effort. Throughout the 1950s Moody's camp was the residence of RAF personnel who were based at the village radar station. Many other camps popped up, Mariner's Park, Seafields, White Clover and the Ponderosa. The Speedwell and Manor House Caravan Parks were set up for touring caravans. Sunningdale was on the border of Hopton and Gorleston on Links Road. There have been 13 holiday camps in the village. By 1971 residential housing development took over a number of the camp sites. The Moody's dining hall became the Village Hall until it was replaced in 2010 with the existing community complex behind the Doctors Surgery on Station Road.
Radar Station/RAF Hopton
The Radar Station can still be seen on the cliff top to the east of Potters Leisure Resort, and is now in private ownership. The east side is in danger of falling into the sea as the sea defences in that area have not been upgraded. RAF Hopton played a vital part in the air defence of Great Britain during WW2.
The war memorial stands in the churchyard of St. Margaret's Lowestoft Road commemorating the residents who died in service of their country. A Remembrance Day service takes place every year around the war memorial.
There is much history surrounding some of the road names in the village. Flowerday Close, Ormsby Close and Rogers Close are named after Reverends at St. Margaret's Church. Randall Close after a shopkeeper (there was a shop on the corner of Coast Road and Station Road). Teulon Close was named after the architect Samuel Sanders Teulon who designed St. Margaret's Church on Lowestoft Road. Whittley Mews could be named after Bob Whittley the old Postmaster at Hopton Post Office or William Whittley the gardener at Hopton House for many years and verger at the church. Potters Drive, White Clover Way, Speedwell Close and Groomes Close are all named after holiday camps in those areas.
The current Norfolk County Council development on the Lowestoft Road has roads named after birds.
In 1955 the village was concerned over coastal erosion which led to the installation of wooden groynes and later revetments. The wooden revetments took a bashing from the tides, particularly the spring tides each year, until the revetments were no longer fit for purpose.
The Shoreline Management Plan came into being (from North Norfolk coast down to east Suffolk), and much discussion and negotiation took place regarding "holding the line" or letting the sea take its course into the village (see Newton above), Due to the outer harbour being re-arranged at Great Yarmouth and changing the undercurrent, sand at Hopton diminished and erosion became more of an issue.
As a result, Haven, the holiday park on the cliff top, arranged for granite rock groyes called fishtails to be installed which has the effect of holding some of the sand on the beach rather than being washed away by the tide. More to follow...
Most of the information above was collated by members of The Hopton Village History Group (no longer in existence).