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Once a huge port, now a popular Norfolk tourist town

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Beach & Beach Huts
Harbour & Quay
Harbour Railway
Staithe Street
A few hundred years ago, this town on the northern Norfolk coast was the biggest and most important port in the county. Huge cargo ships weighing several tons would be a familiar sight. Despite this fact, and despite the town's name, Wells-Next-The-Sea isn't actually on the coast; you have to go a kilometre or two further on to get to the North Sea. There is a huge expanse of salt marshes, separating the town from open water. This is a great place to spot some of the local wildlife, and it's particularly popular with birdwatchers.

Beach huts on Wells beach

Salt Marshes at Wells next the Sea
Along the western side of these marshes is Wells-Next-The-Sea's beach. Alongside this is a long path, with good views of the harbour, and the boats. The route leads to a car park and campsite, a kilometre or two north from the town centre. If you don't fancy walking, then you can travel by rail instead. The Wells Harbour Railway offers open-sided steam and diesel trains during the spring and summer months, which makes for a very pleasant way to arrive in Wells-Next-The-Sea.

The path between the beach and the town

Wells Harbour Railway
The harbour also used to be used for shipbuilding, as well as trade. Most of the cargo ships have long since moved elsewhere, but there are still plenty of pleasure craft, and a few fishing boats. Many of the commercial buildings have been converted into housing, including an old granary which is the town's major landmark. The building features a spectacular loading gantry, which looks like a single extra corridor, sticking out from the building's 4th floor.

Wells Harbour

Boats moored up at Wells

The loading gantry of the Old Granary
The harbour is also home to an ancient Dutch sailing barge called the Albatross, which is one of the oldest ships in the UK that actually still sets sail. In the past, it's been used for everything from exporting grain, to transporting Jewish fugitives in the Second World War. It's now available for private hire.

The Albatross at Wells Quay
The main town area has all the places you'd expect to find in a town with a beach, like cafés, and amusement arcades. That's not all Wells-Next-The-Sea has to offer though. The town centre's main road, Staithe Street, is a kaleidoscope of interestingly coloured shops, selling all kinds of weird and wonderful things. You won't find any chain stores here, which makes for an unusual, unique atmosphere.

Staithe Street, running up from the harbour

All kinds of shops line Staithe Street
Away from Staithe Street, Wells-Next-The-Sea becomes a warren of narrow streets and alleys, filled with old Georgian and Victorian architecture. With a bit of exploring, you'll also stumble across a grassy park called the Buttlands. This place, which is lined with green trees, acts as a calm oasis from the crowds. In the olden days, though, it was considerably less relaxing. Apparently the locals used to come here to practice their archery!

Cottages around the Buttlands

The Globe Inn

Situated in the Buttlands, this pub is a popular place for a refreshment.

Wells Town Sign, which depicts a typical local scene consisting of a fishing boat and a coastline backed by pine trees.

The parish church of St. Nicholas is located on the outskirts of Wells. This large church is almost entirely Victorian, its medieval predecessor was destroyed in a fire in 1879.

Did You Know?

On the outskirts of Wells you will find the terminus of the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, which takes visitors on a 4 mile train ride from Wells to Walsingham, making it the longest 10¼" narrow gauge steam railway in the world.
Visitor Information
Wells-next-the-Sea, Tourist Information Centre, Staithe Street, Wells-next-the-Sea, NR23 1AN.
Car-parking can be found at Wells Beach (paid), a half mile walk into the town centre. Alterntatively, there are a number of small car-parks around the town centre.

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