New book tells of architect George Skipper who shaped Cromer - and was ‘Norwich’s Gaudi’

Hotel de Paris, Cromer.

Hotel de Paris, Cromer. - Credit: Colin Finch

The Royal Arcade, Jarrolds store and Aviva's historic base Surrey House are among Norwich's Victorian and Edwardian treasures - and were all designed by the same architect.

Copy pictures of Glenys Hitchings' book about George John Skipper, The Man Who Created Cromer's Skyl

Copy pictures of Glenys Hitchings' book about George John Skipper, The Man Who Created Cromer's Skyline. Portrait of George John SkipperPicture: MARK BULLIMORE

A new book tells their creator's story, and his special influence on the Gem of the Norfolk Coast.

'George John Skipper, The Man Who Created Cromer's Skyline' traces the career of Dereham-born Skipper (1856-1948) and the impact his unique style, which has been described as both 'exuberant' and 'Edwardian Baroque', has had on Cromer, Norwich, and beyond.

Sir John Betjeman, the late poet laureate and architectural campaigner, said of Skipper: 'He is to Norwich rather what Gaudi was to Barcelona.'

Skipper's work included elements of the French chateau, Palladian, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau styles.

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The book's author, Cromer resident Glenys Hitchings, says Skipper and his brother Frederick, who was in business with him, were in the right place at the right time.

With the coming of the railway, Cromer was transforming from a sleepy fishing village into a Mecca for wealthy tourists who wanted holiday homes and hotels. And George Skipper obliged.

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From the 1890s until the early 1900s the town rapidly grew and Skipper gave Cromer a wealth of buildings including its imposing clifftop Hotel de Paris, former town hall, The Red House (now Halsey House) and large homes on St Mary's and Vicarage roads.

In Norwich, Skipper's much-admired and visited Royal Arcade was designed with 24 wooden bow-fronted shops and includes elaborate tile work.

And many consider Surrey House, on Surrey Street, his finest work. Its spectacular domed entrance hall includes walls and pillars of patterned marble intended for Westminster Cathedral.

? The book, with colour photographs by Chris Branford, is available from Jarrolds at £12.99.

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