Located on the A149, the pier at Cromer is a great piece of history.
One way or another there has always been either a jetty or pier at Cromer since way back in 1391.Originally a levy was raised by the users of the jetty to keep it maintained. In 1582 Elizabeth I allowed Cromer to be able to export malt, wheat and barley and to use money raised for rebuilding and repairing the jetty and pier.
The final jetty was built at Cromer was in 1846, it was simple and only 70 yds long. It was eventually destroyed by storms and the area lost its pier. It wasn’t until 1901 that a modern and traditional pier was opened for residents and visitors.
The area at the time had two major railway companies fighting for custom in the area, the great eastern and the midland and great northern wanted the chance to bring the rich and famous to any occasion for the kudos and one-upmanship over the rivals. The great eastern delivered dignitaries from London whilst the midland brought people from all over the region including Birmingham and Bradford.
There was a band at the bandstand when the pier was opened; the bandstand only lasted 4 years before it was incorporated into the newly built pavilion. In the 20,s and 30,s there were numerous top bands playing at the venue. As a matter of fact the Cromer protection commission toured the south of England looking for artists suitable to play at Cromer pier pavilion.
Over succeeding years the venue staged many events and after a section in the pier was replaced after removal during the war the entertainment continued. The pier had a portion removed at the outbreak of war so that the Germans couldn’t use it to stable boats and invade. The problem was that the local life boat station was at the end of the pier beneath the pavilion.
Therefore a temporary walkway had to be installed for the lifeboat men to use when needed. In 1953 the pier and pavilion joined a long list of piers destroyed by weather. It had the repaired funded by the government and was able to fully reopen 2 years later.
The present design shows the pier walkway and pavilion above box iron girders, the walkway has iron railings and a traditional wooden walkway.
Modern times for the pier
In 1978 the venue had its seating reduced to 440 and a new bar, foyer and café was added. A link with Richard Condon was formed, this lead to the summer time “seaside special “This lead to the pier winning 2000,s pier of the year award. With future investment and links with the council the venue had seventy seats added and anew bar.
The pier apart from the pavilion is very basic; this allows quiet walks or fishing from the pier head. The pier allows views in all directions including along the long beaches. It also allows you to look at the headland behind the pier, the trees and buildings.
The pier also looks stunning from the land end of the pier, from side on the pier is lit at night or looks great against the natural sun light. The pier runs from the entrance gates down to the pavilion via the walkway. The walkway allows a chance to rest on the benches and take in the sea air. Passing along the pier towards its end it allows perfect spots for fishing or simply staring out to sea. The pier is very wide and so has plenty of room for everyone.
There are some covered booths to hide you from the inclement weather and benches for the drier times. After 30 years of hosting summer specials the owners of the pier decided to have a winter specials run of shows, the shows are held around Christmas.
This year’s shows (2008) are due to run from December 5th to 27th. Also the pier has featured in the fireworks displays of bonfire night and New Years Eve, the fireworks being set off from the pier itself. The stunning display lights up the buildings and colours the night sky.
As the lighthouse station is so popular there has been a large museum built to show off all the equipment used and to remember the major events the lifeboat crew have been involved in. If you visit http://www.cromerlifeboats.org.uk/07/index.php you will be able so full details of the station and its work load, also you will get full details of the museum and its contents.
It is even possible to watch the progress of the pier through a website dedicated to the surfers who like the waters. The web cam allows surfers to check sea conditions next to the pier which therefore features in the picture all day long.
Today on the pier
The pier is still standing and is highly popular despite a long and some time troubled history. It has been highly damaged by four storms, hit by a boat thrown against it by a fifth storm, it survived being cut in half by the army and has survived many people going abroad for their holidays.
The area as with many seaside towns has lost many tourists but has gained in permanent residents. These residents live around the beach and town area in a mix of old and new buildings, some which blend with the general look of the area and some that don’t fit so well.
The seaside pier looks nearly the same as when this version was first built and it fits in well with the best of the piers still standing around the British coastline. Its shows at Christmas on the pier will probably attract visitors as well who want a Christmas break. The lack of amusement arcades is somewhat unusual for a modern pier but it does mean it is far quieter than many and perhaps helps to hold on to its history.
Facilities at the pier
Pavilion theatre (box office 01263-512495)
Tides restaurant (01263-511236)
Location of the pier
Cromer sea front
The pier is near the train station and nearby bus services.
For further information
Entry to the pier is free.