Holt is a market town and parish in the English county of Norfolk. The town is 22.8 miles north of the city of Norwich, 9.5 miles west of Cromer and 35 miles east of King's Lynn. The town is on the route of the A148 King's Lynn to Cromer road. The nearest railway station is in the town of Sheringham where access to the national rail network can be made via the Bittern Line to Norwich. Holt also has a station on the preserved North Norfolk Railway, ‘The Poppy Line’, of which it is the south-western terminus. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The town has a population of 3,550. Holt is within the area covered by North Norfolk District Council.
Holt is best known in the rest of England for being the seat of Gresham's School, a long-established public school founded in 1555 by Sir John Gresham, originally for boys only but co-educational since 1971.
The school's former students (Old Greshamians) include Benjamin Britten, W. H. Auden, Lord Reith, Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, President Erskine Childers, Sir Christopher Cockerell, Donald Maclean, Sir Lennox Berkeley, Sir Stephen Spender, Tom Wintringham, Sir James Dyson, Stephen Fry, Ralph Firman, Sir Peter Brook, Sebastian Shaw, Sienna Guillory and Michael Cummings.
Holt railway station, opened in 1887, was served by the Midland and Great Northern Railway. Most of this network was closed by British Railways in 1959 but the short section from Melton Constable railway station via Holt to Sheringham (services continuing on to Cromer and Norwich) escaped closure for a few more years - finally succumbing in 1964 when the branch was cut back to Sheringham (now the nearest national rail-head, served by frequent services to Norwich along the 'Bittern line'). In 1965, within a year of the closure of this line, the North Norfolk Railway was formed to restore part of the line as an independent heritage steam railway. Initially it operated between Sheringham and Weybourne; later it was extended to the eastern edge of Holt. Until a few years ago, a horse-bus service, the "Holt Flyer", ran between the Railway Tavern in the town centre and the new railway station, timed to connect with trains. The horse-bus has now been replaced by a Routemaster bus. There are now plans to extend the railway back towards the town centre.
Holt United Football Club has an even longer history than the Rugby Club. It was formed in 1894 and was a founder member of the North Norfolk and Norwich League, which began in 1895. In 1927 the club joined the Norwich and District League and went on to win this league on five occasions. In 1935 the club was in the Norfolk and Suffolk League and did not suffer a league defeat until December that year, when they lost to Norwich City A at Carrow Road. Holt was the first amateur team to play at the newly-built Carrow Road ground. In 1985 Holt United left their ground at Jubilee Road, which was sold to finance the new Sports Centre complex at Kelling Road. For one season Holt played their matches at Gresham's School. In 1986 the club moved to their new ground at the Sports Centre. Four years later they dropped into Junior football, which was a major blow to the club. During the past three seasons the club have remained in Division One of the Anglian Combination. At present Holt United run two sides, the first team and the Reserves playing in Division 6.
Holt Harlequins Hockey Club (formerly Cromer Hockey Club) plays at the astro turf ground at Greshams school.
The Doctor Who Midsummer Invasion 2006
On Sunday 25 June 2006, Holt was "invaded" by Daleks. The event was a celebration of BBC Television's classic science fiction series Doctor Who. The Doctor Who Midsummer Invasion attracted many fans of the ever-popular show to the town as well as some of its previous stars. Organised by Planet Skaro, a local sci-fi store that has subsequently closed, the highlight of the day was a Dalek parade through the town centre.
Several former Doctor Who actors came to see Holt be invaded. The visiting celebrities included the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker plus Terry Molloy, best known for playing Davros, the creator and leader of the Daleks. Deborah Watling, who played Victoria Waterfield alongside the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, also attended as did Barbara Loft, who was a child when she featured in the classic story The Mind Robber. All the stars were a real hit with the public when they signed autographs, photos and memorabilia in the High Street.
Some Cybermen were also in town as part of the Invasion.
At The Feathers Hotel on Saturday 24 June, there was a meet-and-greet buffet which gave some fans a chance to mingle with the stars before the Invasion took place the following day. Colin Baker was unable to attend this exclusive event as he was starring in a play that evening.
The Doctor Who themed events proved very popular, the Sunday especially so, with over 10,000 people visiting the town.
Due to the success of the first Invasion, another science fiction themed event took place in Holt in 2007. On 30 June, between 10 am and 4 pm at the Church Hall, there was a Collectors Fair. Attendees at the fair included Mercedes Nogh (Rystall in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Barbara Loft from The Mind Robber, plus Spencer Chapman (a Doctor Who set designer from the 1960s).