Coastal town’s secrets revealed in fascinating new volume
- Credit: Archant
The coastal towns of Cromer and Sheringham may have one of Norfolk's most famous rivalries, but one thing that unites them is their secrets.
And now the hidden side of these two former fishing villages is explored in a new book by historian Lorna Talbott.
Secret Cromer and Sheringham delves into the history of the towns, where not only the hunt for sea creatures such as crabs, but also industries such as lime burning and brick making, have left their mark.
Ms Talbott also looks at the towns' legacy of smuggling, their proud tradition of sea rescue, and how they became popular holiday destinations.
She said she learned a lot about Sheringham and Cromer whilst writing the book, even though she had been a regular visitor for the past 50 years.
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Ms Talbott said: "The Hound of the Baskervilles was inspired by the region and a king once played golf on the cliffs.
"Flint rocks and fossils are just a part of the amazing geology and I have discovered that the is a mermaid in one of the churches in Sheringham."
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But Ms Talbott said her favourite secret was the Sheringham Shoal offshore windfarm with its neat lines of 88 wind turbines, 15 miles out to sea.
She said: "The Sheringham Shoal hides. Sometimes I look out to sea from the promenade at either Cromer or Sheringham and all I see is sea, even when the weather appears clear.
"I prefer to think that the turbines like to play hide-and-seek with me and anyone else enjoying the view, and they all run further out to sea where they cannot be seen from shore."
Chapters of the book include 'the hidden past of tourism', 'the untold cost of war', 'the unsung lifeboat heroes' and 'the secrets behind cafe culture'.
There are also information boxes telling a range of little-known tales including a plan to demolish Norwich Cathedral to provide materials to restore a former Cromer pier in the 1650s, and that the architect of a Sheringham church also designed the iconic British red telephone box.
Ms Talbott, who lives in Leicestershire, has been researching the history of north Norfolk and the East Midlands for many years.
Excerpts from the book: Did you know?
-The first caravan used for holidaying was made in 1880 for Dr William Stables, a travelling writer who called himself a 'gentleman gypsy'. When he came to either Cromer or Sheringham in his basic caravan he found it rather chilly. A Victorian postcard from Cromer said: 'No hope of bathing this holiday - almost ice floating about'. It was posted in June.
A guesthouse in the 1920s revealed the effect of the weather: 'Due to rain it has been a bad summer for lettings. I cannot pay my rent this season.' Hopefully, the sun shone the following year for them.
-During the Zeppelin raids of the First World War, Sheringham was the unfortunate target of the first bombs dropped on British soil. One bomb fell straight through the roof of a cottage in the town and was detonated. A quick-thinking occupant grabbed the incendiary device, rushed outside and dropped it into a horse though to extinguish it. The bomb is now on display in Sheringham museum.