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.
Piers, Theatres - Stage
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.
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 far and near. 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 a field 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 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.
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 a partnership with Richard Condon was formed. From this partnership 'Seaside Special' was 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 2001 a new partnership was formed between North Norfolk District Council and Openwide International. This partnership has grown in strength with a major part of this focusing on ways to extend the season and increase economic growth for the Pier and Cromer.
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.
Now the Pier, Pavilion Theatre, Tides Restaurant and Footprints looks forward with enthusiasm to other new and exciting chapters in this rich history… and looks back with proud and fond memories.