War Memorial Gary Trouton

How did they get away with it?

October 2001

The Lynn News' Purfleet visits Stoke Ferry

Ever been to one of those places in the centre of which something entirely unacceptable has taken place, and thought how did that happen, how did they get away with it?

The village of Stoke Ferry, where I stayed recently, is such a place. The abomination at its core is the brooding monolith that is the Favor Parker factory. With its towering galvanised pinnacles, its hulking bulk hangs dramatically and menacingly over the homes below like some horn-beaked vulture. The place thrums day and night with an eerie energy, the odour of its activities hanging heavy on the warm breeze of an August afternoon.

Fat, lazy pigeons are grateful for the spillage at the entrances and exits. Properties are dusted with a grime that indicates resignation by their residents. If ever there was a battle of Stoke Ferry, Favor Parker won.

It's a walk of perhaps only a mile to the verdant banks and crystal-clear waters of the River Wissey, where red-finned fish dart among the waving fronds and elude anglers whose attention has been taken by the graceful glide of proud parent swans and their cygnet brood.

But in the peace of the evening the Favor Parker factory intrudes, the constant noise of mechanisation pushes at the invisible barrier between the two worlds and stretches it into a tear. The more acceptable background noises of the day, give way to the unacceptable background noises of the evening.

No doubt employment for Stoke Ferry residents is a compensation for the disaster at the core of their community. Surely there can be no other defence.

Compared with the size of the village, the factory is gargantuan-it overwhelms absolutely. Its presence is heard and smelled before it is seen.

But the seeing comes as a surprise to all those unfamiliar with Stoke Ferry. Its suddenness is shocking - there is no gentle introduction, it cannot be viewed away in the distance down a sweeping drive, or manicured grounds. It looms and towers, in your face in an instant, like some modern-day Colditz.

Who would make their home here, consider buying a property here? And how trapped would you feel if you had a property to sell?

There are no doubt historic reasons for the dominance. But it is appalling, and Stoke Ferry was obviously there before the expansion of the factory.

The indications are that once it was a pleasant enough Norfolk village, with the usual jostle of amenities and homes humble and grand. Today it is sadly neglected.

Surely planning legislation could have prevented the blight? A solution now would seem impossible.

Stoke Ferry, for now, has been abandoned to its fate, and ghostly white flags of surrender hang in tatters behind the dust-caked windows.


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