Cromer Pier  4.JPG

Date published: 8th April 2024

North Norfolk District Council and Cromer Pier are delighted to hear that the iconic landmark has won Pier of the Year 2024.

This is the third time Cromer Pier has won the award since the National Piers Society formed in 1996, with wins in 2000 and 2015.

Openwide Coastal, the Council’s partners have run the Pier since 2004, providing a mixture of productions, live music, and comedy and a restaurant, bar & café and a gift shop.

Over the past two years, the Council has invested over £2m into Cromer Pier, supporting this vital asset by improving the bar side facilities with a refurbishment of the Pavilion Bar, improved toilet facilities including accessible toilets and extensive substructure works to futureproof the Pier for years to come.

Cromer Pier is a vital asset in North Norfolk’s cultural and tourism offering, which is often dubbed ‘the jewel in the crown’.

Leader of the Council and Cromer ward member Cllr. Tim Adams said:

“This is a wonderful 123rd birthday present for Cromer Pier, recognising the scale of investment that has or is due to take place, with the bar, structure, and in future with the dressing rooms. It also comes during a year when the Seafront is seeing major investment in sea defences, which will be a spectacle itself.

We are delighted with this award, which reflects the dedication of our own Property Services Team, Openwide Coastal with their unique offer, and all who contribute to the Pier in many ways.

We are so lucky to be in the position we are with our Pier, with so many other towns nationally having struggled to maintain their own.”

Tim Wardley, Chairman of the National Pier Society said:

"I am delighted that Cromer Pier has again been voted the prestigious ' Pier of the Year' award by our members. A most worthy winner, Cromer demonstrates the very best in public/private partnership providing a unique and popular visitor experience.

North Norfolk District Council are to be applauded for their continued investment to ensure the pier remains in good structural condition with excellent visitor facilities, while Openwide bring their vast entertainment and leisure experience to ensure the highest quality visitor attractions, including the world's only full season pier theatre variety show.  The success of this combination is one of the main reasons cited by our members for their votes.

The pier theatre, one of only five still open in the country is a major tourist attraction and the pier contributes greatly to the Norfolk coastal tourism economy attracting visitors from the UK and world over.  Congratulations to Cromer and I look forward to visiting the pier for the official award ceremony on opening night of the summer show". 

Sean Garrett, General Manager at Cromer Pier said:

“We are delighted to receive the Pier of The Year award from the National Pier Society for a third time. It is a lovely reward for the hard-working team on the Cromer Pier. The working partnership we have built up with North Norfolk District Council over the past 20 years, has helped bring the iconic Norfolk pier to the forefront, both as a year round tourist destination and also helping to keep theatre alive, in the Pavilion Theatre.”

Sarah Hunter, Managing Director for Openwide Coastal said:

“As the operator of Cromer Pier, It is an honour for us to receive recognition for our continued investment into the shows, events, restaurant, bar and retail shop on Cromer Pier. It is an absolute pleasure working in partnership with NNDC to improve the pier and theatre offer for both locals and tourists, ensuring visitors are delighted for years to come. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the NPS members who voted for Cromer Pier as Pier of the Year 2024.”

Over 70,000 customers attend shows at Cromer Pier each year, including to the award-winning summer and winter variety shows. The Cromer Pier Show is thought to be the only full season end of pier show in the world and has been loved by generations of theatre lovers.

Cromer Pier also arrange wider events on the Pier and promenades, such as the very popular 60s festival which drew tens of thousands of visitors in 2023.

Cromer Pier has been a popular location for film and advertisements with the 2012 Olympic Torch, Steve Coogan’s 2013 Alan Partridge film Alpha Papa, BBC’s Antique’s Roadshow in 2018 and many short or independent films, including an international documentary A Seaside Special by German director Jens Meurer.

Camera man on the beach filming Cromer Pier at sunset

Tickets for the upcoming summer show are on sale now – get tickets or view more upcoming events at

A history of Cromer Pier

Since 1391 there has been a pier of some sort in Cromer, the first being a wooden jetty and there are records dating until 1580 showing rights to levy duties for maintenance. In 1582, Queen Elizabeth I granted export rights to the people of Cromer to raise funds towards the maintenance of a Pier.

Since the 1800s, Cromer Pier has gone through several iterations, often damaged by the elements.

A 210-foot Pier was constructed in 1822 but was washed away in 1843 and replaced by a 240-foot structure in 1846. This survived until 1890 where it was irreparably damaged by stormy seas and had to be dismantled, leaving Cromer without a Pier.

The design of a pier for Cromer was reimagined in 1901, where a 500-foot iron pier was built, with a bandstand at the head. The pier opened on June 8th 1901 with a construction cost around £17,000 – around £1.73m today. By 1905, concerts on the open bandstand were a popular attraction and the bandstand was modified to form an enclosed pavilion.

A lifeboat station was installed in 1923 and lifeboats have had a presence on the Pier since.

At the outbreak of World War II, Royal Engineers removed sections of the Pier to repurpose the materials for military use, temporarily removing access to the pavilion until its restoration post-war.

The Royal Engineers undertook a planned demolition of the Pier in 1940 over fears that it may be used as a landing site for invading ships. The Engineers set explosives in the centre of the Pier and were detonated – misjudging how much explosives were required, debris ended up as far as Church Street.

Once it was realised that access to the lifeboat station was removed, a makeshift rope bridge was installed between the two sections so that the vital rescue service could continue.

Shows resumed until 1953, where gales demolished the Pavilion Theatre and parts of the Pier – fortunately government funding was granted for reconstruction, to reinstate the now culturally significant theatre, which resumed for the 1955 season.

Exposed to the elements of the North Sea, the Pier has been damaged by storms in 1949, 1953, 1976, 1978, 1990, 2013 and 2017, and has been repaired to keep access open and shows running.

The cultural offering of the Pier was redesigned in 1978 with the building of a new café, bar and foyer and a new partnership with theatre manager Richard Condon who introduced the popular Seaside Special production.

In 1990, strong gales destroyed the amusement arcade and in 1993, a 100-tonne rig from the offshore oil rigs separated and came adrift, crashing into the Pier and isolating the theatre and lifeboat station. To make repairs, a makeshift rope bridge was again installed to facilitate reconstruction. Repairs were made in time for the 1994 show season.

Aerial image of Cromer Pier showing the damage
Photo credit: Archant/Newsquest Archive

The reconstruction works earned the first Peter Mason Award for engineering excellence, awarded by the National Pier Society.

The shows growth in popularity attracted visitors from far and wide, earning the Pier of the Year Award in 2000.

In 2004, the Council formed a new partnership with Openwide Coastal in a productive relationship which has grown the offerings on the Pier, increased its status as a cultural landmark and found new ways to improve and develop the offering.

Further redevelopments were made, increasing the seating capacity to 510 and adding a new restaurant, called Tides - the pier pavilion was reopened by actor Stephen Fry later that year.

In February 2012, the Council committed £8m to revamp Cromer pier and the sea defences across the Cromer frontage.

In 2021, the Council embarked on a further programme of substructure works in 2021, replacing some of the decking, pipe infrastructure and framework of steel supports which holds the Pier up. UK Industrial Services delivered the work to maintain the Pier, futureproofing the steal further.

Cromer Pier was again awarded the Peter Mason Award for engineering excellence in 2023 for this programme of works.

In January 2023, Cromer Pier got an upgrade to modernise the Pavilion Bar including refurbishment of the bar and toilets, including accessible facilities.

The Council is committed to continued investment into Cromer Pier, which is a Grade II listed structure and is among the most culturally significant landmarks in Norfolk. Further funding has been committed for capital works to maintain the Pier, this time focusing on the Theatre side.

Last updated: 8th April 2024