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Cromer Pier’s unlucky slice of history

PUBLISHED: 10:04 22 April 2018

The 30m gap left in Cromer pier after it was ripped apart by a runaway rig in November 1993. Picture: Archant Library

The 30m gap left in Cromer pier after it was ripped apart by a runaway rig in November 1993. Picture: Archant Library

Archant Library

Keith Skipper recalls one of the unhappiest days in Cromer Pier’s history.

One of the most dramatic events of my full-time years in Cromer left me marooned and miserable.

The pier was sliced in half by a runaway barge on a stormy Sunday in November 1993, shortly after I had returned from a bracing clifftop path stroll. It became a major tourist ‘attraction’ before a new holiday season beckoned with the official reopening six months later.

How I missed my little outings to the end of the pier, especially when I felt close to the end of my tether.

No doubt many experienced similar withdrawal symptoms in 1940 when it was decided to blow up the central portion of the pier to prevent any invading troops having easy access to the town.

Local people were warned demolition would take place at noon on a particular Saturday and advised to open their windows to lessen damage from the blast.

High noon came and went. Nothing happened.

Many residents closed their windows, only to regret it at about four o’clock. There came an almighty explosion. Debris shattered windows and damaged property. Then it dawned on the demolition brigade that the lifeboat crew couldn’t get down to the lifeboat shed.

“Ha, well done Wilson. I was just wondering who would be first to notice that little problem,” said Cromer’s answer to Captain Mainwaring. Temporary planking went over the hole. In dark and wet conditions, the crew must have been in greater danger going across that gap than they were in the churning sea.

The savage 1953 floods also took their toll, but the present Cromer Pier has always been ready for anything fate can throw at it. I joined centenary celebrations in 2001 after rumours I had been there for the opening.

My tribute ran: “End of the pier where an era lives on out of curiosity and affection for old-fashioned ways”. It continues as a precious haven for exercising feet and brain.

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