‘Town’s wonderful lost hotels still survive in my memory’
- Credit: ARCHANT LIBRARY/RON JACKSON/MARK BULLIMORE
Writer RON JACKSON, 87, often visited Cromer's hotels in his job as an articled clerk based in the town, as well as on social occasions. The now King's Lynn based writer continues his tale of the 'grand old dames'.
The Marlborough was in the town, as were the Metropole, The Tuckers, The Imperial in Church Street and so on but in Overstrand the Danish House was a gem.
It was timber framed and had been built for the Paris Exhibition then taken down, transported and re-erected on the cliff edge as a private house. Later it became a hotel and was popular for its restaurant and cellar.
At some time in the late 1940s or 50s, Danish House burned down. I was sent out on my bicycle the following morning and met the owner in the driveway. The place was still smoking and there was precious little left apart from the porch and main entrance.
The owner gave me a bottle of champagne which he had salvaged from the bar. I never did drink it as the heat had pushed the cork halfway out and the label was nicely charred.
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Just off the town centre was Colne House, The Ship Hotel, Craigside, Eversley Court, Belmont Hotel, Hotel de Paris, Westcliffe, Melbourne, Albany Court, Cliff House, Tudor Court - I could go on, but apart from the Hotel de Paris, they are no longer there. Days of dancing
Colne House in the 1960s was the 'in' place for dinner and dances, with its sprung ballroom floor. The hotel stood in extensive grounds and has fallen the victim to a development of up-market apartments and flats - a lady who left several millions to Cromer Hospital lived in one of them.
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In 1949 the Royal Links was the first to fall to a contagious bout of fires. At some time during the night, unoccupied, it went up like a torch.
The ballroom, which was situated by the Overstrand Road, in which the BBC made an early Come Dancing programme - in which my wife and I actually appeared on TV around 1961 - followed its parent's fiery fate in 1978. Others up in smoke
The Marlborough in Prince of Wales Road which opened in 1883, was a very imposing building and I don't think it actually opened for business after the war. At some time in the early 1950s a fire was discovered in the main hall which didn't actually destroy the place, but there was sufficient damage to warrant its demolition.
Towards the Runtons stood the Grand which opened in 1891 and continued trading after de-requisition until 1969 when new owners changed its name to The Albany.
This seemed to be a bad omen as it burned down the same year and is now the site of some rather grand - sorry for the pun - apartments called Albany Court.
Behind the church in the town centre stood The Tuckers which was demolished in the 1960s.
Now permanent homes
A little farther along Tucker Street stood the Metropole which dominated the waterfront skyline from 1894 and was a red brick monolith which was converted to flats but suffered a fire and was demolished in the 1970s.
It is now the site of De Vere Court apartments.
Next door to the Metropole, the East Cliff Hotel hung on the Cliff edge. This was converted into flats after de-requisition but no longer exists. In St Marys Road stood Craigside Hotel, an 'up-market' establishment stood opposite Raven Court in Vicarage Road -
I'm not sure exactly when it caught fire, but Craigside was demolished and apartments now occupy the site whilst much earlier Raven Court was converted into flats.
Town has a different shine
In 1953 I left the estate agency business and moved around a bit, returning to Cromer in 1958 to run the Cromer Laundry.
I loved Cromer, both when I worked there at the end of the 1940s, the late 1950s and early 1960s, when, with a young family, we enjoyed possibly one of the best social times of our lives.
When we moved to King's Lynn, we vowed to retire to Cromer. Somehow that urge waned as all our friends gradually 'left the scene', or like Coxswain Blogg, are dead.
Times have changed with a vengeance, the aristocrats, royalty and the rich and famous no longer holiday in Cromer as they have the world's playgrounds at their feet. So the old town is largely left to day trippers and the retired.
But she still holds a magic for me.
-This is the second part of Mr Jackson's story of Cromer's lost hotels, which began in the Enjoy Cromer More pages of the North Norfolk News on April 19. If you missed out, you can still order a copy by calling 01603 628311, or visiting enjoycromermore.co.uk