History of Cromer as a Seaside Resort

Cromer, the home of Dr Bach for many yearsCromer was one of the most fashionable resorts for gentlefolk in late Victorian Britain. It is only 40 miles from Sandringham where Queen Victoria would stay, as do the present Royal Family. The story of the town as a popular holiday destination began when the railway arrived in 1877.  At that time Cromer was served by two railway companies, The Great Eastern and the Midland and Great Northern. The great rivalry between the railway companies meant that any official occasion in the town, such as the opening of the pier, gave them the excuse to bring dignitaries from far and near and so put Cromer firmly on the map.

Benjamin Bond Cabbell, owner of the Cromer Hall estate sold portions of the land in the 1880s to build hotels and apartments and develop the town as a seaside resort.

The centre of town has hardly changed to this day. The original buildings are still intact as they escaped bomb damage during the Second World War.

Cromer Church

With its imposing 160ft-high tower, highest in Norfolk, Cromer church was erected between 1377 and 1437 during the reign of Henry IV and dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. Probably the oldest building in Cromer, it commands a fine view of the sea and surrounding countryside. This dramatic view from the sea is a common but welcome sight to seafarers, especially to lobster and crab fishermen, who congregate at this part of East Beach – it has a slipway.

The Pier

There has been a Pier or jetty in Cromer since 1391. Letters granting the right to levy duties for repairs suggest that attempts at maintenance seem to have gone on until 1580. In 1582 Queen Elizabeth I granted the right to the inhabitants of Cromer to export wheat, barley and malt for the maintenance of their town and towards the rebuilding of the pier.

The last wooden jetty was built in 1846, described as a plain wooden structure it was just 70 yards long. By night, it was regulated by several bylaws, smoking was only allowed after the hour of nine o’clock when ladies would be expected to have retired for the evening. Gales damaged the jetty again so much so that it had to be dismantled and Cromer was left without a pier. This brief spell of emptiness spurred the ‘pier commissioners’ to consider a more fashionable structure, so it was in 1901 that the new pier opened by Lord Claude Hamilton

Cromer's historic pierOriginally there was a bandstand at the end of the pier, and the Royal Italian Bandwere one of the first visiting bands to have played there. Entrance charges for the pier were 2d, with an additional 2d to get into the bandstand. In 1905 the bandstand was covered to form an enclosed pavilion and the following season the first ‘concert parties’ performed. Throughout the 1920’s and 30’s the Cromer Protection Commission was responsible for selecting the concert parties at the pavilion, touring the South Coast looking at potential shows. The Vagabonds with Mr Anderson Nicol were one of the first acts to appear on a regular basis.

Pavilion Theatre

In 1936, one of the Pavilions most famous shows first appeared – Ronnie Brandon’s ‘Out the Blue’. At the outbreak of World War II the Royal Engineers removed the middle section of the pier and shows ceased for the duration of the hostilities. After the war Cromer Council advertised in the Stage for concert parties to provide shows to cover a fourteen week season. Devastating gales in 1953 demolished the Pavilion and wrecked the pier. The Government of the day granted compensation for the rebuilding of the Pavilion and the new ‘Theatre’ was ready in time for the 1955 season.

In 1978 the seating capacity was reduced to 440 and a new cafe, bar and foyer were built. At the same time the ‘Seaside Special’ was first created and as all regular visitors to Cromer and the Pavilion Theatre will know the show has gone from strength to strength winning the ‘Pier of the Year’ award in 2000.

In 2004 a further redevelopment has increased the seating capacity of the Pavilion to 510, added a restaurant called Tides, boasting the best views in town, a shop and a superb new theatre bar with extension.

Cromer Museum

The newly renovated Cromer museum has replica of a Victorian cottage and many historic photographs of Cromer and much, much more.

Open everyday, there is an admission charge.

Henry Blogg, Cromer's most decorated lifeboat manLife boat Station

The new lifeboat station has been built at the end of the pier. This saves precious minutes when launching the lifeboat. Open all day and free of charge, make sure you give it a look.

Henry Blogg Museum

This new museum is dedicated to the famous Henry Blogg, the most decorated lifeboat man ever and a hero in his own lifetime. Born in 1876 in a cottage in New Street, he joined the lifeboat crew in 1894.  He became coxswain of the lifeboat in 1909 and remained until 1947 and must have been acquainted with Dr Bach. He died in 1954, and held three gold medals for gallantry, four silver and the George cross.

There is actually an interesting connection between Dr Bach, Henry Blogg and the Cromer lifeboat. During the fated wreck of the Sepoy in 1933, a half drowned man was brought to the Red Lion. Dr Bach is reputed to have saved the life with his now famous Rescue Remedy. Read more about the rescue of the crew of the Sepoy here >

The museum tells the story of the RNLI and also displays a full sized lifeboat. It is free of charge and open every day.

 

Cromer, famous for its fish produce, especially crabs

 

 

Fishing in Cromer

This small esplanade along East Beach leads from the pier and passes the gangway where the fishermen launch and land their boats. See the boats lined up with the rusty tractors used the pull them up and down the beach. The famous Cromer Crabs are caught here and its fun to watch them unload their catch early in the morning. Take a  look at the beautiful, ornate lamp posts and the Victorian lavatories under the steps  – their decorative brickwork and small domes are a work of art.