Traditional seaside entertainment brings Cromer Pier to life for special 200-year celebration

Celebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Cromer Pier staff members, Simon Cottam, Rebecca Wass and Jo Artherton.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Celebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Cromer Pier staff members, Simon Cottam, Rebecca Wass and Jo Artherton. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sunday, July 27, 2014
9:39 AM

Slit walkers, dancers, families and tourists joined together on one of Norfolk’s most popular piers yesterday to celebrate Britain’s 200-year history of them.

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Celebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Cromer Pier manager Rebecca Wass gives a guided tour of the Pavilion Theatre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYCelebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Cromer Pier manager Rebecca Wass gives a guided tour of the Pavilion Theatre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Marking the special anniversary, an open day was held on Cromer Pier which saw the seaside attraction brought to life in time for the summer season.

Chief executive of North Norfolk District Council, Sheila Oxtoby, explained how it was especially important to celebrate the pier following the impact of the December 2013 tidal surge.

“We are absolutely delighted that the pier is up and running and thriving through the summer season - it’s so important.

“It’s fantastic to see it so vibrant.”

Celebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Stiltwalker Caroline Poole.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYCelebrations on Cromer Pier celebrating 200 years of piers. Stiltwalker Caroline Poole. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Cromer Pier is home of the last remaining ‘end of pier’ show in Europe and is only one of five working piers in the country.

Yesterday’s event saw a flavour of traditional seaside entertainment from the past 200 years with walkabout acts including jugglers, stiltwalkers, clowns, fortune tellers, musicians and dancers.

Student Ruby Bardwell-Dix and tree surgeon Julian Hoyland also performed during the open day. Miss Bardwell-Dix is currently studying Theatre Arts at Twickenham University.

She said the pier was very dear to them both and that they were “delighted” to be asked to sing during the event.

The pier also opened its doors to give visitors a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes areas not normally accessible to the public.

And two hundred balloons were also given away to mark the occasion – one of which contained a special prize of a £200 holiday voucher to spend with Norfolk Country Cottages.

Tim Wardley, vice-chairman of the National Piers Society, was at the open day. He said there had been something for everyone during the celebration.

“I think piers are a quintessential part of English life.

“They provide so much pleasure to people of all ages.

“Cromer Pier is one of my personal favourites because it’s so cherished and so loved by the whole of the community - it has so much life.”

And patron of the society, Gyles Brandreth, described it as being “one of the great British piers built entirely for pleasure”.

Mrs Oxtoby added that repair work would start on the damaged box office from mid September for eight weeks.

Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the opening of the first ever seaside pier at Ryde, Isle of Wight. There are 58 piers left out of about 100 built in Victorian times, of which just under 50 are open for business.

• Don’t miss tomorrow’s EDP for a 12-page picture special, featuring the best of Norfolk’s weekend events.

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