Thirty years ago, a seaside community was rocked after a rogue barge crashed into a pier splitting the historic monument in two. 

Cutting off Cromer’s lifeboat station, the incident also threatened to have a devastating impact on the start of the town’s tourism season. 

It was then a co-founder of a successful Norfolk business sprang into action to restore the pier back to its former glory - reaffirming its legacy in Norfolk's rich history. 

Now, following his death at the age of 85, Martin Lavers role in the reconstruction – and the mark he left on the county – has been remembered. 

Eastern Daily Press: Martin Lavers

Born on June 21, 1938, in Paddington, London, he is described as coming from “humble beginnings”. 

He stoked the boiler of properties in Kew in London in return for free board to gain his civil engineering qualification at Queen Mary College. 

He then went on to work in the design office at Halcrow before putting up his hand to work on the Port of Tema in Ghana, West Africa.   

Eastern Daily Press: Martin Lavers

His daughter, Claire Lavers, said: “From humble beginnings he achieved a lot. His life was colourful and varied with his company. 

“When my father and mother came back from Ghana, they returned to their former digs in London.  

“The next day there was a phone call from John Rochester inviting dad to come to Norfolk to help him start and manage a civil engineering and contracting company.” 

In 1966, the pair founded John Martin Construction. 

In its heyday, the company – based at Shipdham, near Dereham - had an annual turnover of more than £12m and around 120 employees.  

It built up a considerable reputation for its civil engineering activities, particularly in coastal defence and harbour works. 

Ms Lavers added: “The company never missed a day's trading.” 

Some of its most noted works include being part of the restoration of the RLNI Cromer lifeboat housing. 

Eastern Daily Press: The stormy night when Cromer Pier was sliced in two in 1993

In turn, the company was awarded a contract with the RNLI to upgrade several lifeboat stations around the country. 

But it was the actions which followed the night of November 14, 1993, which the company will arguably be most remembered for. 

That night, a runaway rig that surfed to shore driven by a Force 12 gale crashed into Cromer Pier and destroyed 40m (150ft) of it, making it impossible for anyone to reach the lifeboat station at its end.  

So severe was the collision, the pier’s original cast iron columns and foundations were damaged beyond use. 

Eastern Daily Press: The stormy night when Cromer Pier was sliced in two in 1993

Four days later, John Martin Construction had constructed a temporary rope pedestrian footbridge enabling the lifeboat crew to launch a rescue in the event of a shout out. 

By the third week of January, a temporary bridge and walkway was designed and constructed to enable a full reconstruction of the pier. 

The opening date of May 1 for the first End of Pier Show of the season loomed over and despite many challenges, the grand opening ceremony took place on that date.  

That evening, the staff of John Martin Construction who undertook the work enjoyed front row seats. 

Eastern Daily Press: The stormy night when Cromer Pier was sliced in two in 1993

By October 1999, Edmund Nuttall Ltd had acquired John Martin Construction. 

During his retirement, Mr Lavers retained a keen interest in engineering and loved travelling around the county pointing out the jobs he had worked on.  

He was also an active member of his local Men's Shed and Probus Club, and enjoyed playing pétanque.  

He died on November 17, following a heart attack, and was a much-loved husband to Angela Mary Lavers, who died in February this year.