Cromer Pier

20 July 2017

Cromer Pier has stood as a proud monument of Norfolk for over half a millennia, with records going as far back as 1391.

Cromer Pier has stood as a proud monument of Norfolk for over half a millennia, with records going as far back as 1391.

Starting life as a small jetty Cromer Pier was the center of industry for the Norfolk coast. It received rights from Queen Elizabeth I in 1582 to export wheat, barley and malt, with all the proceeds going towards the upkeep of the pier and the town of Cromer.

In 1822 the small jetty was extended to be 210 ft but this unfortunately was washed away a mere 21 years later. This was hastily replaced by a 240 ft structure which became exceptionally popular for promenading. It became so popular in fact that a ‘Pier Keeper’ was instated to maintain the pier and also implement by-laws including prohibiting smoking on the pier prior to 9pm at which time it was customary for any ladies to retire for the evening.

This cast iron structure stood until 1890 when a storm caused such severe damage that the pier had to be dismantled leaving Cromer Pier-less. The remnants of this pier were sold at auction for forty pounds; equivalent to almost fifteen-thousand pounds today.

For the next twelve years Cromer was without a pier and during this time a Pier Commission was formed. This Commission came to a unanimous vote to replace the pier with a modern ‘fashionable’ structure. This was designed by London company Douglass & Arnott and the work carried out by Alfred Thorne costing over seventeen-thousand pounds. The completed pier was 450 ft long and consisted of multiple glass screened shelters and a grand band stand at the end.

Further modifications were made in 1905 when the shelters were roofed and the band stand was extended with a stage and proscenium arch which was utilized in 1907 for the national craze of roller skating. Over the next seventy years the pier was extended further to connect with the lifeboat station.

The pier fell under ownership of the Norfolk Council in 1974 and has been maintained and upgraded at regular intervals since. Due to the constant barraging of the sea various repair jobs have been made on the pier since its opening the largest of which took place in 2013 only a few weeks after a 1.2 million upgrade scheme had been completed. Fortunately the recent upgrade meant the main structure was relatively undamaged however the lifeboat station, gift shop and ticket office were not so lucky. A preliminary survey predicted tens of thousands of pounds worth of repairs being required however further investigating escalated these costs to hundreds of thousands.

The pier as it stands today is a true beacon of Cromer history surviving everything history has had yet to throw at it. So if you get the chance to stroll its boards remember, this is history and this is Cromer.