Cromer pier repairs will 'cost everyone in north Norfolk more than £10'
- Credit: Jon Williamson
Vital repairs to Cromer's Grade-II pier have been given the go-ahead, despite concerns about the cost of the project.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has agreed to spend £1,134,000 to ensure the future of the structure, which was built in 1901.
Home to the Pavilion Theatre and Cromer lifeboat station, the pier has adorned countless postcards and holiday snaps through the decades and is considered one of the greatest tourist attractions in the north of the county.
A repair project began about a decade ago. One phase of the scheme was completed just before the pier was hit by a powerful storm surge in 2013 which damaged the structure.
The latest work will focus on the seabed pilings and timber decking.
But at the council meeting where the project was approved, Conservative opposition councillors questioned the costs.
Tom FitzPatrick, Tory councillor for Walsingham, said it was more than "£10 each for every man woman and child" in North Norfolk, regardless of whether they live in Cromer or not.
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Fellow Conservative Christopher Cushing described it as a "huge sum of money that will come out of the council's purse".
The Lancaster North ward councillor said: "I understand that we were told in previous administrations that a lot of money needed to be spent and that would be it, the pier would be sound for another 15 years, but it appears in that time frame we are coming back for another slug of money.
"I appreciate the pier needs to be maintained but we are being asked to endorse large sums of money.
"I know some will call it the jewel of the coast, and for some it is, for others I think it would be a black hole."
He questioned what other options there are and why previous funding was not enough.
Lucy Shires, the cabinet member for organisational resources, said it was the third and final phase of the project and it was necessary to do the work.
She added: "The other option would be to dismantle the pier and I don't think that's what the opposition is suggesting."
Steve Blatch, the chief executive of NNDC, said the pier underpins the region's tourism offering and identity of the north Norfolk coast and pointed out that piers in other parts of country have deteriorated when investment has not been put in.
The council agreed to fund the repairs, with 19 votes for and 11 abstentions.
The works are due to take place between summer this year and next year.
THE CROMER PIER CHRONICLES
As far back as 1391, there are records of a pier - or jetty - at Cromer, from which local produce was loaded onto ships.
In 1822, a 210ft (64 m) long jetty was constructed, made of cast iron supplied by a foundry in Saxthorpe, but it was destroyed in a storm just 24 years later.
It was replaced by another wooden structure, this one a little longer at 240ft (73m).
The jetty became popular for promenading, with a keeper employed to 'keep order'.
Strict rules meant ladies were required to 'retire' from the jetty by 9pm.
In 1897, a coal boat smashed into the jetty, damaging it beyond repair. It was dismantled and the timber sold for £40.
The town was without a pier until, in 1902, the new pier - which survives to this day - was completed.
It was 450ft (140m) and cost £17,000 to build.
In the early years, it had glass-screened shelters and a bandstand on the end.
The shelters were roofed over in 1905 to form a pavilion.
The bandstand was later replaced with a stage.
From 1907 this was used to accommodate the latest craze of roller-skating.