The name of Wells derives from the old word ‘welles’ meaning a clear spring rising through the sand and wells in the area. The addition of ‘next-the-Sea’ was to distinguish the town from other places in Norfolk of the same name. It was known as Wells-next-the-Sea in the early 1800’s but with the coming of the railway in 1857 the name ‘Wells-on-Sea‘ seems to have been used. The town council made the decision in 1956 that the name ‘Wells-next-the-Sea’ be adopted, and this has been used since then.
The busy fishing Quay is a very popular attraction. Children fish for crabs from the edge of the quay and frequent the amusement arcade, the ice cream stall and the sweet shop. You can buy cockles and crab sticks from the fish stall and watch the fishing boats come and go. The freshly caught seafood is a speciality in Sands, and eating fish ‘n chips on the quay is really popular. One of the main industries of the town in the 19th century was malting. Some of the granaries and maltings still exist and an impressive feature of the harbour is the large granary building with its distinctive overhanging gantry. Built in 1903, the granary has been turned into luxury flats with magnificent views of the harbour.
In Tudor times, when Wells-next-the-Sea was closer to the sea, it was one of the great ports of eastern England. It’s still one of the most attractive towns on the north Norfolk coast, and the only one to remain a commercially viable port. It features many narrow lanes nicely sheltered from the offshore winds and makes a very good base for exploring the surrounding coastline.
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