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 and, described as a “plain wooden structure”, was just 70 yards long. By night, it was regulated by several bylaws: for instance, smoking was only allowed after the hour of nine o’clock when ladies would be expected to have retired for the evening. Gales later damaged the jetty again so much 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, and it was in 1901 that the new pier opened.
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 gave them the excuse to bring dignitaries from near and far. And so it was with the official opening of the pier.
The ‘Great Eastern’ brought dignitaries and members of the press from London while the ‘Midland and Great Northern’ ferried VIPs from as far afield as Birmingham and Bradford. The ‘Blue Viennese Band’ played in the bandstand and the brochure assured visitors that ‘here, while the season lasts, strains of charming music will be constantly heard.’ In 1905, the bandstand was covered to form an enclosed pavilion and the following season the first ‘concert parties’ performed. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the ‘Cromer Protection Commission’ was responsible for selecting the concert parties at the pavilion, and toured the south coast looking at potential shows.
In 1936, one of the Pavilion’s 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 hostilities. After the war, Cromer Council advertised in ‘The Stage’ for concert parties to provide shows to cover a fourteen-week season. In 1953, devastating gales 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.
First Broadcast: 8th December 2009
A self confessed super fan of Most Haunted and editor of GhostMag.com. Matt’s passion for ghost hunting began when he moved into a haunted house in his second year of university in Leicester! His favourite location is the Niddry Street Vaults in Edinburgh.