Giant crab back home at Cromer - or is he?

This giant crab is a monster from the bottom of the sea, which has been welcomed 'home' to Cromer after spending decades in a rescued sailors home and museum further along the coast.

But a question mark over his origins has been raised by a local fisherman, who thinks the showpiece crustacean might have come from the other side of the country.

The crab has just been added to the displays at Cromer's town museum, taking pride of place alongside gansey knitwear and crab catching gear in a fishermen's cottage bedroom.

Curator Alistair Murphy said it had been at Great Yarmouth museum since 1968 having come from the fishing port's Sailors Home which ran between 1861 and 1965, caring for more than 11,000 shipwrecked mariners from 29 different countries during its 100-year history.

It was said to be caught off Cromer and under a new working relationship between the eastern area museums it had been 'repatriated,'


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The giant has an 28cm (11in) shell, around twice as big as the usual Cromer crabs now appearing on fish shop slabs, and renowned for their smaller-than-normal size for edible crabs, and extra sweetness.

Mr Murphy said a a museums service natural history expert told him the traditional size was due to efficient fishing of the area, but it was possible for them to grow bigger if they evaded being caught.

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So the specimen which became a trophy admired by stricken sailors and later museum visitors was 'lucky.'

When the plinth mounted monster was taken for a photo shoot at a local crab shop however owner Billy Davies, who has been fishing for 46 years, said: 'That does not look like it was caught round here. It would not have got through the whole into the pots.'

Mr Davies, who also figure in newspaper headlines in the 1970s when he caught a giant crab, though not on the scale of the museum monster, said it was 'more like to have come from down south' such as Devon or Cornwall where they used different methods.

But, to the relief of museum staff, he conceded it could have been trawled up off Cromer by accident.

An EDP cutting from 1958 reported a crab with a near 11-inch body, 16in claws and 9in legs being landed by lifeboat coxswain Henry 'Shrimp' Davies, Billy's uncle, which said it had been hauled up clinging to the outside of a pot.

To see the giant crab visit Cromer museum, next to the parish church, which is open from 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 1-4pm on Sunday.

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