Soap Box Derby returns to the streets of Hunstanton
After a three and a half year absence, the popular Soap Box Derby, organised by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, returned to the Victorian holiday resort of Hunstanton.
To the delight of an estimated 5,000 spectators and onlookers, the event did not fail to deliver. A chicane and jump put all the drivers’ skills to the test. Fortunately, the dry weather gave the racers some respite. The course weaved its way downhill from the town centre towards the promenade with many spectators taking advantage of an opportunity to view the creatively built carts close up on the green before the racing began.
The crowd erupted as Team Expro set proceedings under way. The debutants, who had travelled all the way from Great Yarmouth with their offshore winch designed vehicle, set a benchmark of 40 seconds. With carts reaching speeds of up to 40mph, there were certainly thrills and spills but, fortunately, no serious injuries.
The King’s Lynn Army Cadets Soap Box driven by fifteen-year-old Aidan Beagles did come a cropper on its second run over the jump, ending up upside down. He was shaken up and had hurt his chin but after a check-up in the ambulance was pronounced ok.
One bystander was heard to quip, “you can’t park there sir”.
The wheels, unfortunately, fell off the Hunstanton Fire Station vehicle, although they did manage to cross the finishing line.
However, after two runs, the winning Soap Box built by Pat Richardson - with a time of 30 seconds - was Birkin’s Boys. The team consisted of Charles Le Stange Meakin, Stuart Dark and local MP James Wild, with Charles taking the helm for the winning first run and the James the helm for the second run. The team of Peter and Karen Drew won the Veterans event with Soap Box RUBY, named thus as they were celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary. Team Eggy won the Under 16’s race. The presentations were made by Borough Mayor, Lesley Bambridge and Mayor of Hunstanton, Maureen Howard.
Despite the chill, the sun shone and there was definitely a feel good factor about the place, with local bars, cafés and restaurants all busy throughout the day. This year also marked the 70th anniversary of the first Soap Box Derby, held in Hunstanton in 1953. The brainchild of Frank Hartnell, he arranged the inaugural event for the enjoyment of the boys of St. Christopher’s Children’s Home.
Organiser, Roger Partridge, was delighted with the event, saying: “Marvellous to see a successful day for the town of Hunstanton, blessed with good weather. Delighted to see even the Daily Telegraph got in on the action and featured the event. My thanks go to all the council staff, volunteers and behind the scenes helpers who made the day possible. See you all next year!
“Thanks also go to King's Lynn & District Motor Club who marshalled the event, Tesco for the provision of staff lunches, Hunstanton Scouts who delivered road closure notices and Westcotec of Dereham who provided the speed monitoring device.”
For the full results, please visit www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/soapbo... .
Lining the route were 1000 straw bales. A quantity of these were collected by Moulam and Horn of Heacham and they are selling them for £1.50 a bale (with a discount for bulk loads) with all proceeds going to charity.
The event certainly lived up to expectation and is now firmly back on the annual Hunstanton Events calendar. The next Hunstanton Soap Box Derby is planned for September 2024.
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