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Sep 2017

Norfolk Coat of Arms

The traditional seaside town of Cromer sits in the middle of some cliffs in North Norfolk, just about where the coast kinks round. Cromer is famous for two things, its pier, of course, and, erm, crabs.

As for the pier, this 1902 effort is just 450 foot long so doesn't even trouble the pier charts, length-wise.

It won the prestigious 'Pier of the Year' prize in 2015 and they don't hand them awards out willy-nilly but, rather more remarkably, it's never suffered from a nose-tapping fire.

It was, however, damaged during a storm surge in 2013 when decking was lifted and the pavilion flooded. The local council had it up and running again within a week meaning the Christmas Pier Show could go ahead but more on that in a minute.

  Crab Pot Café (Hamilton Road)

Cromer crabs are just brown crabs but they grow smaller here, something to do with the seabed, they say. Smaller means the minimum landing size is less but there are strict rules on sustainability and smaller also means sweeter, not so much of the dark, punchier meat, you see.

They're available in the Crab Pot Café, when available, and they're so good they'll have you scuttling back sideways at least once more this week.

Cromer is famous for three things, the other two and the 2013 shooting of local celebrity and broadcaster Steve Partridge. Here on the pier is just about where Alan Coogan took a bullet in the shoulder from some old  Meaney or other and, rather surprisingly, the  whole event turned out to be much more entertaining than expected.

The Pavilion Theatre is home to the last surviving end-of-the-pier variety show in the world, which, let's face it, really just means the UK.

The posters are advertising the last performance... WHAT! The last ever performance of the last surviving end-of-the-pier variety show? Not the case, that's just the last of the summer season and they're already taking bookings for Christmas and next year so the show does go on.

Luminaries of light entertainment such as  Bradley Walsh are said to have cut their teeth here but if you're one of the three comedians, one of whom juggles, the classical or the musical theatre vocalist or one of the Seaside Special Dancers who isn't mentioned by name in a tagline,  Britain's Got Talent is probably your next option. The best that could be seen was...

'Production values were high throughout, and costumes ever-changing and gorgeous.'

  Craft Burger Cromer (New Street)

Yup, gourmet burgers, craft beers and the Courier font have even made it to Cromer. They offer up a 'bunless' option, which sounds about as 'funless' as the Cromer Pier Show without the Seaside Special Dancers.

Seems that Cromer wasn't ready, however, and this can now be filed in the permanently closed category some two years before any you-know-what.

The phrase 'faded grandeur' is famously bandied about in places like Cromer and the Hotel de Paris falls into that category, just before it falls into the North Sea itself by the look of things close-up.

George John Skipper was to Norwich what 'Gaudi was to Barcelona' said ex-Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman not even trying for a rhyme. Skipper was the architect behind Cromer's Town Hall and in the 1890s, drew up plans to replace an existing hotel on this site, which would become the place to stay in Cromer's heyday.

If it all sounds a bit faux, there's some credibility in that the name was taken from the original, run by an aristocrat from overseas whose family had fled the French Revolution, no less, and his name? 'Pierre le Françoise' and no, he wasn't a  Kenny Everett character.

  No1 Cromer (New Street)

Their top-of-the-chips claim can;t be vouched for but the Times newspaper recently rated them as 6th nationally, seaside-wise. Take your pick from a styrofoam tray or dine inside where they've even opened a 'Modern British' room with cockle popcorn on the menu.

As part of their expansion, they've repainted outside so that's an awful lot of blue and is something that any of the three comedians, one of whom juggles, appearing in the family-oriented Cromer Pier Show definitely aren't.

The rest of town isn't particularly famous for anything else and is best described as, yes, traditional, if a little postmodernist in places.

Their promenade gardens, however, are always up for some blooming prize or other, probably, and if they're not then they should be.

Definitely.

For church-fact fans, the tower of St Peter and St Pauls is 160 foot high and is the tallest in the county, they say.

Best of all, though, Skipper's Town Hall is still just that with Wetherspoon™s yet to invade although they likely will and call it the 'Crab and Whatnot' or the 'Old Town Hall' if the Director of Contrived Waterhole Naming is on holiday that week.

Either that or the 'Juggling Comedian' where the 'All-day brunch values are high throughout and out-of-date ales ever-changing and gorgeous.'

That's a joke, of course, the Spoons are calling breakfast 'brunch' these days? Seriously?