Growing up in Cromer North Norfolk 1950’s – 60’s

Growing up in Cromer North Norfolk 1950’s – 60’s

Cromer Pier and crab boat landing the catch

Growing up as a Cromer Crab

“These Are The Days Of Our Lives”

“You can’t turn back the clock, you can’t turn back the tide
Ain’t that a shame?”

Queen – 1991 album Innuendo

OED – Nostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past

I wonder what Roger Taylor was thinking about when he penned the lyrics for Queen’s hit song These Are The Days Of Our Lives. The words proved sadly prophetic for the great Freddie Mercury who died that same year.

So, nostalgia, is it a bad thing or simply harmless reflection? Surely many older individuals who had particularly happy periods in life feel nostalgic now and again. Such reminiscing wasn’t always regarded as healthy, with some doctors regarding dwelling too much on the past as being tantamount to a mental illness. Before such illnesses were better understood many in the medical world thought that nostalgia could lead to a sufferer physically wasting away and being rendered incapable of coping with everyday life. Apparently, soldiers and emigrants were considered to be at the highest risk of nostalgia-induced illness. At the moment I don’t believe that my nostalgia is pushing me to the brink of some mental collapse – still you never know! Anyway, I am prepared to risk it and relate my story about what it was like growing up in Cromer in the 1950’s and 60’s.

What prompted me to write this piece?

I was recently talking to a friend about my childhood spent in Cromer during the fifties and early sixties, a particularly happy time for me. We started to reminisce, and the memories came flooding back – school days, play, adventures and teenage romance.

1956 – Arriving in Cromer

The Hobart family moved to Cromer when I was eight years old. My father had managed Rusts’ grocery shop at Swaffham and the move to Cromer, Rusts’ headquarters, was a promotion for him. The firm was well established with shops in several Norfolk towns. Each branch of the business had its own premises with a specialist manager. In Cromer, there were Rusts’ shops selling wines and spirits, clothing, drapery and haberdashery, shoes and sweets, as well as groceries.

We moved into Warwick House, an apartment above the shop; it was too grand to be called a flat. I remember an ornate mahogany staircase with a full-length mirror fitted into the wall on the first landing. The rooms were huge; bay windows with a central door allowed access to balconies. The bell-pulls, to summon servants from the kitchen, were still in situ in the rooms.

Although ignorant of it then, I was living in a building constructed during Cromer’s golden age of Victorian and Edwardian elegance, the Belle Époque. Wealthy members of the aristocracy favoured Cromer, and grand hotels were built to cater for them. Sadly, the resort never recovered its fashionable status after the Great War. The ritzy hotels were still there, but the clientele had changed. The rich were now taking their holidays abroad, and with the advent of the package holiday industry, they were soon followed by the less well off. That said, the town was still extremely hectic during the summer months of the fifties and sixties – as it is today – and my father worked extremely long hours.

Whenever the opportunity presented itself, I would go down to help in the shop after closing time, assisting by fetching and carrying to re-stock the shelves. Father often spent Sundays redesigning his window displays, in which he took great pride. A particular effort was made at Christmas time: the well-lit windows were full of tempting seasonal fare.

Food packaging as we know it today did not exist. Butter was delivered in large blocks and was worked with wooden butter ‘pats’ on a slab of marble. That was a skilled job because accurately judging the weight was tricky. Cheese arrived in heavy, barrel-shaped pieces, wrapped in a thick bandage type material that had to be opened with a knife. That covering was then ripped from the cheese before the block could be cut into smaller, more manageable pieces. These large cheeses were difficult to carry; a grown man’s arms wouldn’t reach all the way around. Loose tea was delivered in wooden chests that had markings stamped on the outside identifying the contents and the exotic places of origin. I also remember the delights contained within numerous biscuit tins kept under the mahogany counters. There were shelled nuts of all kinds and desiccated coconut – something I developed a taste for.

School

My education was continued at Cromer Primary School (now residential units), where an open coal fire was used to heat the classroom. I can remember bringing in crates of milk to stand in front of the fire to thaw out. The milk was full cream, and we were supervised as we forced it down.

I don’t think I made much of an impression on the teaching staff, or indeed, them on me, as I can remember very little about my time there. The high point, as far as I was concerned, was when a male classmate brought a dead mole to school, which he kept in an ‘Oxo’ tin in his desk. He allowed me a peek at the unfortunate creature. The smell of the decaying mole gradually worsened, and the teacher’s nose eventually led her to the area in which he sat. She, understandably, became very agitated upon opening the tin. The offender was ordered to remove the corpse from her classroom – immediately!

Cromer Beach Station

When I arrived in Cromer, only one railway station remained – Cromer Beach. The High Station, once used by the Royal train on a regular basis, was closed by then and falling into disrepair. Cromer Beach station had two platforms, and a turntable that was close to Central Road. You could watch from there as a steam engine was turned around on the table by the muscle power of only two men.

A slope from the station entrance led to the main street into the town. The grass bank against the slope had large whitewashed stones arranged on it to spell out Cromer Beach. I  remember the train passengers walking down that slope; during the summer season, many were family groups arriving for their annual holiday.

Freedom

In retrospect, our greatest asset in those days was freedom. Changing times have suppressed this for children, and worried parents are now reticent to let them play unsupervised. That makes the great adventures that we embarked upon impossible now.

Cromer Lighthouse in the snow We spent much of our free time on the Lighthouse Hills to the east of the town. The hills and woods provided a play area: there were the   cliffs and trees to climb, a flat area for ball games, expansive areas of bracken in which to hide and build dens, and woodland to explore. In early summer, the heady scent of bluebells and gorse flowers would fill the air. There were blackberries to pick in autumn and during the winter snows, blood-curdling sledge runs down the steep sides of the natural amphitheatre that was Happy Valley. When we became teenagers the Lighthouse Hills became significant for another reason; many a romance blossomed there, and it was a favourite place for assignations.

We also spent time at the bottom of the Gangway where the crab boats were parked, and the catch unloaded when they returned from sea. The famous Cromer crabs were packed into wicker crans (round baskets) to go to the merchants. Sometimes a kindly fisherman would give you a crab to take home for tea.

Saturday!

Saturday was an important day of the week for us, and we made for two venues, the Regal Cinema and the Rollerdrome. For a small sum, you could hire some roller skates from Mr Troller, the proprietor of the Rollerdrome (the site is now a supermarket car park). Relay races generated great excitement and a lot of noise from the supporters of the teams. An event that was officially frowned upon involved skaters holding each other around the waist, forming a human chain. As the speed of this line of skaters increased the turns became more exciting and hazardous for those on the end of the chain. Their hold was broken by the whip effect, and they would be catapulted at high-speed across the rink.

The Regal provided the afternoon entertainment. That consisted of a cartoon, a serial, and a feature film. The feature was usually a cowboy adventure, which would be greeted by the audience with cheers for the good guys and booing for the bad. The strongest level of verbal abuse was reserved for any male character that approached a female member of the cast with romantic intentions. It is astonishing how vocal several dozen children could become when something went wrong with the projection equipment – an event not at all unusual in those days.

Our evening meal was sometimes fish and chips from the little shop in Corner Street (now the much larger Mary Jane’s). The proprietor, Mrs Quercia, would scoop them onto a piece of greaseproof paper and wrap them in newspaper; her hands becoming blackened by the ink as she served. That did not taint the flavour of the chips, and it had no adverse effect on our health.

To any reader who knew Cromer in those days and can remember being woken up by the lifeboat maroons exploding over the church; the inferno when the covered tennis courts at the Newhaven Court Hotel burnt down in 1961, Cilla Black appearing at the Rollerdrome, the waiters’ race, singing hymns with the C.S.S.M on the beach and standing in the rain waiting for the lifeboat to return from a rescue, I send greetings. I hope your memories of that time are also happy ones.

Finally, a few names: Mario Keeler, Richard Grey, Melvin Barker, Alan Amis, John Love, Richard Bratton, David Simons, Susan Thompson, Carol Green, Timmy Hunt, Jimmy Guyton, Lorna Fish, Ted Mann, Roger Bumfrey and the lovely Yvonne Roberts. Mr David Butt, a very good English teacher, and my maths teacher Mr Harold Hemms who was far too good for Cromer Secondary Modern. He tried his best to get my head around algebra and trigonometry but sadly failed. He did, however, succeed in sparking my interest in photography – something that has never left me.

Well that’s out of my system, and my trip down memory lane doesn’t seem to have had any adverse effects.

I will leave the last words to Queen:

“These are the days of our lives
They’ve flown in the swiftness of time
These days are all gone now but some things remain
When I look and I find, no change”

 

 

 

83 thoughts on “Growing up in Cromer North Norfolk 1950’s – 60’s

  1. Hello what a lovely site. It great to see so many names known to me. I lived in Cromer from 1955 and left in 1969. Went to Cromer primary school then onto Cromer secondary school. Had some great friends and even better memories. I was in contact with Stephen Davies in 2006 and tried to find others since then. Found Ian crombie, Grahame Woodrow, sally and Susan Davison, Charlotte windows, Steven baker for a couple of mails. I have tried to find others such as Peter read, Richard Lipton, David hearn, Graham potter and a few others but safely failed. I was in the choir as most us were. We spent most of our time at the tennis courts. I will pass on any updates but in the meantime best wishes to all and you are all in good health, regards Mike

  2. Hi David. Does anyone know when the Infants/Junior School on Bond Street and Cross Street closed? Would be grateful for any Information.

  3. Hi Peter
    Thank you. I remember both the people you mention, particularly David Easter. I don’t know where he went or what he did later in life.

  4. I was born in our boarding house in Beech Road in 1946 and went to the primary school and later, after we had moved to Mill Road Suffield Park I went to CSMS. I was helped there enormous by Mary Noone (whose husband, Ray, was a hairdresser in the town). I was friends with David Easter and Alistair Crombie. The latter went to Australia but David? I was in the choir with Kiffy squeezing my leg during choir practice. The Rev Dick (yes) once hit me so hard I flew across the vestry to the amazement of fellow choristers.

  5. Three memories of Cromer –
    The amusement arcade on Cromer pier that had a horse racing amusement machine, one of the riders was Harry Wragg and others?. The machine on the pier that used to punch letters into a tin strip, letters were selected by moving a rotary arm to the letters of your choice before stamping them into the thin metal. The red and white naval mine charity collection box, located against the fence on the path outside the Melbourne Hotel cafeteria .

    All long gone but I will be walking past all these locations and remembering when in Cromer next week .

  6. My name was Lindsay Bartram and I went to the Primary School in the early 50s in Bond Street. I remember the Laundry at the back of the school. I remember a Susan Garwood who lived at the end of my road. Susan, Sandra and David were my friends. Also I remember the Flaxman brothers.

  7. Hi David me again. I have been reading all the comments on here with fascination. I remember David Facey, he lived opposite me in Links Avenue, we used to play together.
    Can you start up a FB Group for us all. It certainly would be great to share memories with each other. As I am writing my book I really would love some information that I have forgotten.
    I went to see David Facey in his shop in Garden Street a few years ago. I had been visiting Links Avenue and met a chap walking along and I started talking to me and he told me were David worked. I duly went along to his shop and spoke to his wife who then called him out of the back of the shop. We introduced ourselves and swapped addresses. I did write to him but I never had a reply. During the course of time I found out that he had died. I also knew his sister Sandra, but she had died years earlier. My email in linzi224@btinternet.com if any one of you would like to make contact. Thank you.

  8. Hi Lindsay
    I have been thinking about your message and I believe I do remember the Rusts shop being there.That corner has seen several changes over the years and you are right, there is now a convenience store in that location.

  9. Hi Lindsay
    I arrived in Cromer in 1956. The Rusts shops I remember were on the High Street. There was a grocery shop (which we lived above) managed by my father, a haberdashery, a sweet shop, wine shop, a gent’s outfitters and a shoe shop. When Church Street was modernised the grocery shop moved to a new building on that street. The shop is now Boots the chemist.
    Hope that helps.
    Best wishes
    David.

  10. Hi David I have written before but have a query. My father worked in Rusts Shop on the corner of Harbord Road. I have searched on the Street View but the two shops are no longer there. One was called M S Sexton and other was Rusts. I remember these shops so well but they are no longer where I thought they were. There are houses in Harbord Road now and on the corner. One corner has a Spar type shop. Do you remember these shops from when you were a little boy. I lived up Suffield Park way. Grateful for any information for my book. Thank you for taking the time to read.

  11. Thank you David. Loved this.
    I was born and lived in Cromer until 1959. It kind of sticks in your heart I find.
    Now writing a book for my grandchildren.

  12. Hello Steve

    Thank you very much for your input. Yes, I am pleased to hear that my blog is helping to put people in touch after so many years.

    Hopefully, more ex Cromer Crabs will surface in the future.

    Best wishes.

  13. Hello David
    Thought you would be pleased to know, that I got in touch with Martin Clark, and glad to say we are exchanging enjoyable, interesting memories (via email) regarding our Cromer days. Best wishes to you David. I live in the hope that more of us from those long-ago days, will find your site and enjoy reading about our memories. Who knows, maybe ‘somebody’ will get in touch with ‘somebody else’, to share the things we remember (and miss). Thanks David, for creating this place.

  14. Hi Steven Davies,

    Well, well well, I also live in Somerset near Weston super Mare, fancy meeting up?

    I work overseas and wont be home till May 23, my email is: 2martinclark@gmail.com

    Drop me a line and we could meet up for a chat.

    Martin

  15. I mentioned a good b&w photograph I have of Cromer Church Choir 1967 (in a previous post). I’ve plucked the names of the boys in the photo and list them here… Ian Crombie, Andrew Meaney, Stephen Baker, P Clarke, P Baker, Richard Mobberley, David Crombie, Stephen Davies (yours truly), John Roberts, D Knights, D Meaney, A Garland, P Searle-Barnes, J Robinson, K Ives, R Lemon, J Meaney, Nigel Barnard, J Neale, Alan Davies, B Craske, P Meaney, Graham Potter, B Curry, D Cox, P Searle-Barnes and P Barnard. My fingers are crossed, in the hope some of the above boys will see the post and leave a message.

  16. I’ve just spotted a post by John Trollor, from earlier this year. I remember ‘Mr Trollor’ from the roller skating rink, but one of the greatest tragedies was somebody ‘getting rid of’ the rink. Who took that decision ? Shame on you !!

    Anyway, I remember my mother skating round and round in there, and I actually remember just one song being played. ‘Runaway’, by Del Shannon. I remember Wrigleys chewing gum and Fanta adverts, and (eventually) having the courage to put on a pair of skates – but clinging to rails and dragging myself round. I’ve been back to Cromer a number of times over the years (most recently March 2022, with a ruptured right achilles). I ALWAYS have to take a look at where the Rink once was, and I feel deeply sad that it is no longer there. Isn’t there a building named after Mr Trollor, somewhere in Cromer ?

    I now live in West Somerset, so it is a hell of a trek to visit Cromer. Probably the best means is to catch a flight from Exeter to Norwich (it used to cost £60 return with Flybe). Sadly Flybe has gone out of business.

  17. There is great joy in seeing your own name here, because it is heart-warming that somebody actually remembers you. In the same spirit, I’d like to mention Charlotte Windows. I think Charlotte lived in East Runton, but I can only guess she came into Cromer, to go to school. I’ve always thought that (at infants or junior school) Charlotte was my childhood girlfriend. Somewhere, I have a small b&w photo, taken at the junior school I think, of Richard Lupton and Charlotte ‘doing some painting’ in one of the classrooms.

    I remember a girl called Bronwen (Phillips?), who I am sure lived in Mount Street. A few of us kids were invited to Bronwen’s House, where we then gathered in her garage and played records. This was when I first heard Frank Sinatra, singing ‘Something Stupid’. It would have been 1967, when I was 12.

    Another name, that of Penelope Deal. Not sure quite how Penny was part of my life, but I can remember her dad had a connection with the Air Force (although it might have been the USAF, as opposed to our own Royal Air Force). I seem to recall mention that Penny’s dad flew a Typhoon. This of course, must have been the wartime Hawker Typhoon.

    David Burdett, and a boy with the surname Bygraves (who lived in East Runton, I think). I also think his name was Christopher Bygraves (sorry if I am wrong). Anyway, I am certain him and his mum moved to Guernsey, to St Peter Port. Never heard from him again.

    David Hurn, a connection with East Runton. I later heard that David had joined the Royal Navy as a ‘Writer’.

    Geoffrey (or Jefferey) Ormerod ? I remember this boy poked me with a pencil, in one of my arms. For years I used to show my arm to people, as though it was a ‘war wound’. So funny – but it helped remember his name.

    I have seen somebody mention the Keeler family in one of the posts. My mother (now in her mid-80s) is a Keeler by birth, although she grew up in Aldborough. My grandad was Walter William Keeler, who worked for Cullings Coaches, Norwich, and Grey/Green Coaches in Cromer as a driver and conductor.

    Time to stop writing. Didn’t realise I have so much to recall from my childhood. If you’ll all forgive the idiom… these were our ‘Salad Days’ – and I miss them so very much. Have you noticed, there is never a TARDIS around, when you need one !

  18. We all need a TARDIS
    It is insane how time passes, worryingly so. I have just leapt back into this beautiful blog, to catch up with the ‘latest’ entries. I have a feeling I am related (a cousin, maybe) to Debbie and Carol Perkins formerly of Vicarage Road. If either of yo9u read this, I will be so happy.

    CROMBIES
    I was so chuffed to see a post from David Crombie, whom I have thought about many times over the years. I lived at a few addresses in Cromer (family reasons, of course). In the eraly years, my mum and dad lived in a flat in New Street, which is probably where I lived just after I was born. Lived in Hans Place, with nan (and grandad, Henry William Davies, RNLI) living a couple of doors away (in the house directly next to the Cinema). Can’t remember whether grandad’s house was number 6 or 10).

    One year, when a certain Dr Who film landed in the cinemas, I was asked by Mr Morris (Cinema Manager) to wear a Dalek costume and walk along the prom advertising the film. I was told to shout out about the film, and I suppose it must have been something quite ludicrous. Anyway, as many will recall, there was a ‘Beach Inspector’, called Mr Clark (who must have looked something like ‘Blakey, from ‘On the Buses’. Mr Clark told me off for making a nuisance of myself and sent me back to the cinema. Mr Clark also had a position at Cromer Church (probably a Sidesman, or something). I have a really, really nice 1967 photograph of the Cromer Church Choir (in which Mr Clark is very visible).

    Anyway, back to addresses. I later lived at 21 St Marys Road. This is where I so clearly recall Ian and David Crombie, who lived in a big house at the end of St Marys Road. It was really big. Anyway, Ian and David were very popular because (for one) they had a huge 8′ x 4′ piece of chipboard, maybe on a table top, in one of their downstairs rooms, upon which there was a brilliant model railway. Loved seeing it and playing with it. Outside Ian and David’s house, on the pavement (probably on a Saturday morning) we set up a stall and sold comics and stuff. These comics would be worth a few quid now, if we had kept them ! I have tried to contact Ian and David over the years, without success.

    Hello to Martin Clark 🙂 who I remember. Didn’t you used to be able to make the sound of Donald Duck ? I know, that sounds weird… but it is what I remember. Although I have lost my dad, my Uncle Raymond was still alive a couple of years ago, who lives/lived in Suffield Park.

    I could go on and on and on, but it is (actually) time for me to sit down and enjoy a G&T, with pasta. I have now put this blog page into my ‘Favourites’ list, to make it easier for me to visit more regularly. I’ll be back. Oops, no time to do a ‘spell check’, so hope it reads well. Bye (for now) to all of my school pals from Cromer 🙂

  19. Hi Kay
    Thank you for your comments. Your father was in post at Cromer Secondary Modern while I was a pupil there. I can picture him now, making his way around the corridors in a very purposeful manner. A stocky gentleman who was always very smart. I met him again several years later when your parents were living at Blakeney.
    Cromer is still a great place to live.
    Best wishes
    David

  20. I found this blog really interesting
    My late father Leslie George was deputy head at the Secondary Modern school. I went to North Walsham High but ended up as a boarder at Wymondham College. I also remember the Youth Club, and rollerdrome amongst other teenage hideaways! Norman Cutting also taught me piano.
    I returned to Cromer in 1980 as a single mum of four sons as it was such a safe place for their freedom etc. I worked at Cromer Hospital until I returned to London mid nineties. I loved Cromer

  21. Hi there it’s so lovely to read everything written. I’m daughter to Pamela Jean McCarter was Keeler who was sister to David Keeler. My grandparents were Eddie ( Cecil, pigeon) and Elsie Keeler. They ran The Albion pub , garage and a few more businesses. I believe my mum was a keen skater partnered with Donnie Abbs whom did competitions but over Norfolk. My uncle David Keeler is still alive. I would so love to hear more on the history of my family. I’ve sat with my uncle many times and he speaks of so many memories that I truly live to hear. Some very dated photos I’ve posted on Cromer Fb page. Look forward reading more. Blessings to you all xx

  22. Hi Stephen
    Thank you. I remember Mr Eastbury. My father was the manager of Rusts’ grocery so he obviously had dealings with him on a regular basis. I knew there were cellars but had no idea they were used as a wine store. I also remember a Mr Alan Sergeant who I believe took over running the wine shop.

  23. Hi David, thanks for replying. Have been rereading your piece and many of the replies you’ve had. I can see how much influence the name of “ Rusts” has had in town. I too started employment at Rusts as an after school job in the presence of Mr H J Eastbury. Quite a formidable man, questionable temperament and with those metal studs on his soles of his shoes you could hear him approaching. My Dad was also working at Rusts but in the Habberdashery department at the time. He finally ended up down Garden street in his own shop, “Normans” ( formally a butchers shop ) opposite the chippy.
    What a lot of people didn’t know was that under the vast array of Rusts shops that dominated the high street was an extensive cellar system that used to house thousands of bottles of wine. All neatly binned in the traditional manner. It was said that the cellars were linked to the church catacombs as part of a priests bolt hole once, but that could have been wild rumours . Probably our local historian would know.

    As well as the area to the back of the high street,( now the supermarket car park ), There was the bottling plant on the other side of garden street in corner street. This relocated into the old Town hall on Prince of Wales road. This was closed, I think, around the time the brewery distribution moved out of the town to the top of Holt road.
    Formidable he may have been but Mr Eastbury was well known around town for many years, I’ll vouch for that as he gave me my first job.
    Thanks again for the memories David.

  24. Hi Stephen
    Thank you for your input. I remember country dancing lessons and PE in the Toc H hall in Cross Street. I agree about the infants’ school – terrible. Mr Hems and Mr Powell were great characters and terrific teachers.
    Best wishes.

  25. Hi all, like many who have dropped in unexpectedly and have found a goldmine of Timelapse memories I can relate to many of the names mentioned. So to the lifeboat maroons and the fire siren from Canada road. As we lived in the old railway cottages on central road, that was pretty loud. Reading what other people have written takes me right back. We probably moved to Cromer when I was around 4 years old as Dad worked on the railway. Earliest recollections being the infant school in town, absolutely hated it, as a five year old the building looked imposing ( like a castle with gates, one for boys and one for girls). The only saving grace was the trip to the treat shop opposite. Never been a great one for names, can anyone remember the lady behind the counter, she was a diamond.
    Rollerdrome was a regular weekly event, sat mornings I think. Can remember meeting the PG Tips chimps ,my memory fails me where this was, could have been in the old hall at the back of the infant school on cross street. I know this was where we used to have our P.E lessons and nativity plays. Maybe this was where I tripped on my shepherds cloak and fell headlong into the piano. ( got applause when we came on after a break).
    Skipping many years forward, the names of the teachers at Cromer secondary modern, really rings the bells. Classic, Honker Hemes, and the brilliant “Puffer” Powell. It wasn’t the smoke from the Bunsen burners was it?
    Keep the memories coming…………love it.

  26. Thank you David for your article .
    Anything about Cromer always interests me as I was born there, my parents Hilda and Norman Trollor were born and there and lived there for the whole of their lives .I left Cromer in 1956 to go to Medical school ,spent time in London and Suffolk doctoring then emigrated to NSW, Australia in 1967. My wife Pat nee Gyton comes from Overstrand. Being an earlier resident of Cromer I do not recognise any of the names you mention except my father who ran the rollerdrome for years with my mother in the office. I spent many hours in ‘the rink’ skating, dancing on skates and playing roller hockey with Cromer Rovers- The Twins ,Tony and Michael, Sonnie Hayes, Lassie Farrow, Freddie Duffield, Swiggy Bridges, Donnie Abbs are among the many names I recall.
    I too used to get my’ threepence worth’ of chips with crispy bits from the shop opposite the rink, was a choirboy with Mr Cutting – my carved initials are still in the choir pews of Cromer church. It is nice to know that you have left your mark!
    I could go on at length but will leave it there except to say thank you again. My brother on law, Derek Paul from Overstrand kindly sent me your article.

    John Trollor, NSW, Australia

  27. Really enjoyed your article and memories of Cromer in the sixties. I’m 75 tomorrow so remember it well. I think the photo of the carnival queen is my sister, but I’m not sure the date is correct. I remember she was crowned by Frankie Howard! She and I went to school in Ipswich, but my brother Peter Thompson went to school locally and Paston Grammar school in North Walsham. My parents had a guest house in Cabbell Road and I can remember rushing down to the end of the road to see the lifeboat being launched when the maroons went off. When I joined the Cromer Ladies Lifeboat Guild I had the privilege of going on the boat to Sheringham. It was the last time those other than the crew were allowed, so a special memory!
    Some people have spoken of the church choir. My father Wilfred Thompson was the verger at the church for several years and my brother was in the choir.
    I lived and worked in Hertfordshire from the age of 17 but returned over 20years ago to retire and never regretted it for a moment!

  28. Hi Again David. You have done us all a great favour by writing your original blog. Certainly you have sparked some very fond memories of the brilliant early days we experienced in Cromer. It would be great to catch up with some of my old school mates from Cromer Primary School if they are reading this, some names being: John Lines, Pamela Ellis, Stuart Knights, Alison Balls, Nigel Gotts, Sharon Wainwright, Peter Woollard, Caroline Clark, Judith Bullimore and Alan Farrow. I was in contact with Malcolm Robertson a few years back when he was working for Anglia TV. I also was in contact with Tony Hare who sadly passed away several years ago. My email address is focusfood@aol.com if any of you want to make contact. It would be fascinating to see how our lives developed over the years.

  29. Hi Graham
    Thank you very much for your memories. I didn’t anticipate the interest this article has generated and am pleased that so many people have taken the trouble to relate their experiences of that time. Good luck with your radio programme. Happy 2022 and best wishes.
    David.

  30. Hello David, I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed your reminiscences about your early days in and around Cromer. I too have fond memories of the area, spending around 20 years visiting the town as a sales representative selling to hardware and kitchenware shops in the county. Especially the delightful K Hardware owned by Paul and Yvonne Kirkham who I understand have finally called it a day after many years of excellent service to the area. I stayed also at The Red Lion much of the same time, an excellent first class hotel. Memories of sat looking out to sea when I should have been processing orders!. Retirement came for me about 5 years ago after spending the whole of my working life in the hardware trade. It was interesting to see the picture of Cilla Black, and two of the members of Sounds Incorporated, a very under rated group who were often called on to back various groups and singers especially visiting Americans, now my time is taken up as a presenter on a community station in called Lincoln City Radio, with at the moment 5 programmes a week including a sixties programme on a Sunday afternoon.

  31. Hi Alan
    Thank you for taking the trouble to respond. I remember the shop and the winter of 63. I worked for Mr Lane at the paint shop and took a hard tumble off the trade bike after hitting some ice. I can also remember that the sea froze close to the shore.

  32. Hi David
    I remember coming to play at yours up the Apartment above Rusts.
    My father had the Newsagents which was next to Billy Cox’s Fish shop {now a tea room ). I too was Hit by Blois Brooke who was sadistic. I was left with a hand mark on my upper leg . My father went to see Miss Barrett the Head Mistress who told him off. Today he would have been sacked.
    David Robin was at Junior school with me but I think moved to a different school at 11.
    How many school children today would be a coal monitor who in the snow, took a bucket across the yard to fill it up and bring it back to the class in the corner. to keep the fire going and us warm.
    Next to the primary School was my fathers office when he was the local Press reporter. Beside that was the Laundry.
    I recognised many of the names at the end of your article as Class mates. I have some information on some but not all.

    Does anyone remember Alfie Howard, he was a London Toastmaster who came to Cromer as Town Crier and Entertainments Officer in the summer. He operated out of a Caravan on the bomb site that is now Boots. I spent many happy hours helping him with putting up posters, Remember going on the back of his scooter to Runton road car park to the circus.
    The performers were practicing their acts in the tent. One performer was a Fire eater. He showed me how it was done and let me have a go. That was aparty trick for many years with lighted matches. The funny thing was, next day a report in the EDP stated he had been taken to Hospital.with a burned face. Apparently later on he had sneezed when exhaling.
    So many memories. I have a photo of the Newhaven Court on Fire, one of my fathers press photos. That was some fire.

  33. Just read this and enjoyed reminiscing very much. Amongst your pals, David, you mentioned David Simons (should be ‘Symonds’ but no worries). David is my older brother by 6 years. I have let David know and I believe he will be getting in touch with you. Our Dad was Jack Symonds, who owned Symonds Newsagent that was on Church Street opposite Woolworths, which is now Iceland. We lived in Suffield Park behind a small grocery store run by our mother. I, too, remember the Lighthouse Hills and the cliffs but as my parents sold up when I was 14 and moved to Dereham, I was not old enough to enjoy some of the other activities you mentioned. Certainly remember the Cromer Carnivals, the Waiter’s Races and Daily Mail sandcastle competitions, although I could never participate in the latter as I was selling newspapers. Cromer was a great place to spend our tender years although I do also remember the northerly winds coming in, plus the incredibly severe Winter of 1963. Nice also to see some words here from David Crombie. He was in my class at Cromer Primary, where I also remember teachers Miss Larner, Mrs Henstock and Mr Richards, who started the school football team with team shirts bought by my father (no advertising then), plus the somewhat sadistic Mr Blois-Brooke, the bearer of Size 11 plimsolls which found their way onto my backside on a number of occasions.

  34. Just came across this blog (thanks to the EDP web site). I’m a couple of years ahead of you David, being born in 1945, but a lot of your memories ring a bell with me. I lived at the top of Corner Street, and very well remember Mr Quercia and his wife Angel. Jenner Quercia, who had the fish and chip shop next to the Albion was their nephew, not their son, as one of the commenters says, and my late brother-in-law David Facey ran it for a time in later years. My wife and I spent many Sunday evenings at the “Rink”, as the Rollerdrome was known, including seeing the Animals and the infamous Cilla Black response to hecklers! To correct something else, the wicker baskets for packing the crabs in were “peds”, not “crans”. I’ve packed enough of them in my youth! My contemporaries were Robert (Sid) Duller, Peter Bullimore, and Tony (Bones) Harrison. I left Cromer when I was 18 to join the Merchant Navy, and have subsequently lived in Harlow, Hellespont, and Taverham, where I am now. There’s so much more I could add, but my dinner calls!

  35. Thank you for your memories. We lived in the High Street so when the maroons went off we often got up and went down Jetty Street to watch the launch.
    Best Wishes
    David.

  36. Just saw this and it recalled many happy times spent in Cromer. My cousins lived at 6 The Crescent (was called Holmlea Guest House) with their parents Alma and David Bache from 1959 to 1969 when they emigrated to NZ. My grandparents lived at Crescent Cottage (still there and now a holiday home,in good condition thankfully). Had many holidays from 1962 until mid 1979s there.
    Went to school for a few months in ‘64 until my parents moved back to Midlands.
    CSSM Beach activities, lifeboat house (original one), run by a guy called Don (I think) nice old guy. Often walked with my cousin to Cromer Beach station to see him get the train to Wroxham and a boatyard where he worked.
    Often woken by maroons being fired to alert the lifeboat crew (usually late at night).
    Went on the miniature train at the bottom of Westcliff. Got soaked by the ramp next to the pier at high tide but it was a badge of honour. The Salad bowl on the prom by the bath house.
    Brilliant place, now live in Fakenham and visit Cromer often. Great Blog…

  37. With my father in the US Air Force and stationed at RAF Sculthorpe in the early 1960s, I lived in Cromer from 1961 to 1963, mostly on Cliff Ave. As best I can figure, I attended Cromer Primary School from 1962 to 1963. I was 8 years old at the time. I am looking for anyone who could send me copies of photos or a web link for photos and/or additional information, including history, of the school. Even a current address of one of the residences that used to be a part of the school would be helpful. Thank you, Mark Klingaman

  38. Hi Martin
    Thank you for your memories of Cromer. Interesting to hear about Mr Hemms who tried his hardest to get me to understand algebra – he failed unfortunately; my fault not his. He was a very clever man and I am grateful to him for sparking my interest in photography that has stayed with me throughout my life.

  39. I was born in Suffield Park in 1955 and many of the names mentioned on here are still in my memories as are all the things you have mentioned about the Light House hills, the woods where we all used to plave, the smells of the gorse in Happy Valleym the Gangway too. Steve Davies we were in the same class i do believe with Eve Robin, Leslie Garwood and many others. My mum ended her last few years in a care home in North Walsham and whilst she was there and i was visiting her, she pointed out a very old gentleman to me, it was Mr Hemms our maths teacher at the Secondary Modern, he was still as bright as a button and must have been in his 90s at that time. I remember the train station, the bus station, the library which i used to frequent after school. Its a great memory that you have written David and has brought back some great memories for me. I live in the West country now and every year i have my annual pilgimage back to Cromer to visit my mum and dads graves, this year i will be making my way back to Cromer in early Sept and would love to meet up with anyone who knew me, it would b egreat to chat over the memories and good coffee, if anyone is interested.

    Martin Clark

  40. To David Crombie
    I was a friend of Rosemary what happened to her? I remember there were five of you we use to sit on the stock out the back of chemist . Left for Australia 1961.
    From: Janet Pamenter nee Heath
    jdpamenter@gmail.com

    David
    Norfolk Blogger

  41. To David Crombie
    I was a friend of Rosemary what happened to her? I remember there were five of you we use to sit on the stock out the back of chemist . Left for Australia 1961.

  42. Hi David
    Thank you for your message. I can remember Boots being in the original location. There was a library in the back of the shop. I was in the church choir for a short time and we used to meet for practice at Mr Cutting’s house on Cliff Avenue.
    Best wishes
    David.

  43. Hi David, just discovered your page and recognise many of the names mentioned by your various contacts,
    my family moved to Cromer in 1955 , my father was manager of Boots the Chemist, which is now
    Lloyds the Chemist. In 1960 we moved to St Mary’s road. Steve Davies lived up the road from me
    and John Roberts in Vicarage road, there was quite a gang of us living around there and many of us
    in the Church choir, we got up to all sorts of things !!!, far to much to tell now.
    I was at Cromer secondary modern and do remember the likes of honked Hemms, who I must
    agree was pretty scary, not condusive to a relaxed maths lesson. Mr Ruddick started at the school
    in 1966 and lived on Burnt Hills estate, I do believe he passed away a few years ago.
    Well I could write a book about growing up in Cromer, and probably will, it is was just a great
    time and place to be growing up in.
    I would particularly little like to hear from any other of the heathens that were in the Church choir
    under Kiffy Cutting from 1964 into the seventies.

  44. Hi Steve
    Hope you are keeping well. Thank you for your contribution – very welcome. I think I can remember your dad. There is a possibility that he taught my sister to drive. I recognise some of the names you mention but Richard Lupton is one I have never heard before. You are a bit younger than me because I was working when April was abducted. Lovely to remember those times although tinged with sadness.
    Best wishes
    David.

  45. Hello again David

    Have just checked to see that 7 months have passed since my last post! So nice to read these posts again. Wonderful to read the posts from Debra Perkins/Cooper and Eve Robin/Jarrett. I remember Debra Perkins in Vicarage Road, and it was Debra who told me (at that awful time) that our school friend April had gone missing. I remember sitting next to April in the library at school. I recall our school friend John Roberts in Vicarage Road, a few doors away from Debra. I’m sure the name of John’s house was ‘Repose’, which is a strange thing to remain in my head! I remember sitting next to Eve Robin, in Mr Blois-Brookes’ class at Cromer Primary. I remember getting ‘slippered’ by Mr Blois-Brookes. Eve’s family had a big house opposite the bus station I think ? I have tried many times over the years to trace one our class mates, Richard Lupton (who lived in Roughton) but without success (I have a photograph of Richard and I sat together in a class, painting. Mr Peter Bower, one of our teachers, is still alive and living in Wroxham. Peter is the school archivist for Cromer Secondary Modern, and sent me a school photograph some years ago. I was also in the Cromer Church Choir and have a very decently sized choir photo from 1967. Lots of us from school were members. I can also remember the choir singing a few hymns, for some reason, on the beach at the bottom of the gangway in 1967. My grandad Henry William Davies was the Lifeboat Motor Mechanic on the Pier (although possibly he was close to retirement). My Dad, Michael Davies, was a driving instructor and owned Cromer Driving School (I can remember the telephone number was Cromer 2409). I lost my dad in recent years, he died in France. I had loads of ‘Davies’ cousins who lived at Suffield Park. So sad that I left Cromer in 1969/1970 and lost touch 🙁

  46. I came across this blog while searching for my former maths teacher Mr Hems, it contents have cheered me up, its akin to a time travel visit, thoroughly enjoyable.

    just adding to the interesting sound of lifeboat maroons there was also the all clear air raid siren in Canada Road used to summon the firemen, just across from the old fire station was a barbers shop, I think a hair cut was 2 Shillings but I may be wrong.

    Emlyn Davies was my Head master at Cromer junior school, Mrs Tetley used to belt out songs on the piano, and I was frequently slippered by form teacher Mr Blois-Brooke.

    With regard to fish and Chip shops 2d was obtained from the amusement arcade and spent on chips in the shop on the junction of Corner and Garden street or Quercias in Church Street. Further fish and chip shops later sprung up next to the Melbourne Hotel in New St and another in Prince of Wales Road next door to the old Co-op.

    On a Cromer low 2 of my classmates at the Junior School, Anthony Nuttell and another drowned on East Beech they were resident at Colne Cottage, the Croft, a service was held at the Methodist Church not far from the whitewashed stones announcing Cromer Beech. All Staff and teachers walked in orderly groups along Louden Road and West St to attend the service.

    On a Cromer high note on a hot summers day on the west beech I remember Valerie Wiseman who lived 4 doors along in Cabbell Road using the temporary pleasure boat jetty to dive in the sea and save a small child from drowning. I beleive this temporary jetty was only existed for 1 summer season.

    Have booked up a short stay in the hotel de paris for 2021 hopefully lockdown will have finished and I can relive my past, can’t wait.

    .

  47. Hi Phil
    Thank you for your comments.
    The name Ruddick is not familiar to me. The art teacher during my time was Mrs Noone.
    They were wonderful days and I look back on them with great affection.
    Best wishes
    David

  48. Hello David,

    Great post, although a little before my time in Cromer (I was there 1972-80) I do recognise many of the names, indeed Mr Butt was still at the school during my time. I wonder if you mighty have come across an Art teacher, Mr Ruddick. I’m trying to trace him but without much luck. I used to live next to the football ground on Overstrand Road, then Cliff Drive. I was in the Choir in the town church. The twins Amis were great friends of mine, in the ATC Squadron.

    My Saturdays were spent much as yours, up and down the cliffs and ranging over Happy Valley.

    Best wishes
    Phil McCarthy

  49. Hello Steve
    Thank you so much for your comments. Yes, it was a wonderful place to grow up and like you I have so many happy memories.
    Best wishes and keep well.
    David.

  50. OMG David, what an incredibly happy, and beautifully nostalgic piece to read for me this morning (9th August 2020). I am a Cromer Crab, and enormously proud of it too. I can reflect so much of what you have written. I worked at Rusts (mainly as a Saturday boy) and still have a letter of reference (in mint condition) from Mr H J Eastbury dated 24 June 1970. Wow, the names of my school friends mentioned in an earlier post was so nice to see (Diane Leonidas, Susan Bailey, Eve Robin, Leslie Garwood). Then the mention of Mr Troller at the Rink, Mr Butt (our English teacher), Mr ‘Honker’ Hemms (who scared me to death). I remember Beverly Smeda too. My mother is still alive and is, still to this day, in regular contact with Derek and Sheila Smeda. I have tons of memories I’d very much like to share. I now live in Somerset, but would love a reason to drive to Cromer and enjoy a ‘nostalgia party’ . Best wishes to you all. Stephen Davies (now Steve Scott-Davies… aged 64

  51. Enjoyable read, just reminiscing myself, as I spent a short time, in Cromer 1964/65ish and attended the primary school there.
    We lived in the Old mill house at Roughton for a short while and had nothing but happy memories of being there.My father played cricket for Norfolk and it has been a place etched in my memory. Happy days!!

  52. Thank you for you article, it took me back to some of the best days of my life , I Debra Perkins lived in Vicarage road with my mum and dad Molly and Geoff and my sister Carol and brother Tony we used to spend many happy hours at the roller drome and also a the links ,I recognise many of the names you said
    I hope many people respond because we need those good memories especially at a time like this .
    Thank you again
    Debbie .

  53. Thank you Roy. I now live within a stone’s throw of the hotel site that is now a block of flats. I can remember getting out of bed and going with the rest of the family to watch when the outdoor tennis courts building also burnt down. The fire was so intense that burning embers were blowing across the town, over the top of the church tower and out to sea. Glad you enjoyed your times at Cromer. It is still a great place to live. Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

  54. I was living at the Newhaven Court Hotel when it caught fire in 1963. I was 10 years old. I remember I just had my birthday 5 days before and I lost everything. Prior to that I have some wonderful memories of my time there with my brothers and parents. Yes I am a Boyd-Stevenson. I now reside in the USA.

  55. Eve Robin Jarrett, hi we lived in shelly house in the early 50,s and ran it as a b&b, love these memorys, as for newhaven court, i’m sure we used to go dancing there on a monday night.

  56. The other wonderful thing about Cromer in those years was the Links. Buses from North Walsham (where I lived) and Saturday night sorted!!

  57. My family (The Robin Family) lived in Cromer for many yrs. Many of my 8 siblings were born there as was I in 1955. I have vivid memories of growing up there and remember well the landscape you have painted with its many characters, Quercia’s, Rusts. The Trollers. David Butt Harold Hemms et al. Over the past 50 yrs since I lived there I have often thought of my school friends Diane Leonidas, Leslie Garwood, Susan Bailey, Christine Willer, Beverly Smeda fond memories of time spent. If any of you are reading this I want you to know how much I valued your friendship in those young yrs. Hope you are all well and Happy!

  58. Wow Si h wonderful memories for us THe Robin family from Shelly house on cadogan rd Cromer
    Thank you for this pieces, really enjoyed it.
    Deborah Robin

  59. Born in garden street 1950 attended cromer schools played in a group at rollerdrome on Sunday nights.worked locally in shop in town.moved too suffield park in 1955 where my parents lived out the rest of their lives.I married and moved out of the town in 1973.my sister still lives in the town.lots of fond memories of times gone by.

  60. Hi Mike
    I can’t remember a fish and chip shop in the high street. There was one in Church Street for a year or two (60’s I think) that was run by Jenner Quercia who was the son of the Quercia’s that had the fish and chip shop in Garden Street/Corner Street that later became Mary Jane’s.

  61. Can anyone remember the fish and chip shop in the high street. I seem to think it was called something like Risbrough. They were related to the Cox family who were lifeboatmen in Cromer.

  62. Hello Janet
    Great to hear from you. I am glad you enjoyed the article. They were happy days for me and what a great place to grow up.

    Best wishes to you and yours
    David

  63. That is exactly what I remember great days Susan Thompson was my neighbour if she had a brother Michael and sister Linda. I left in 1961 for Australia.

  64. Great stuff David. Must get over to see you soon. Can’t understand where the time goes. Hope you and yours are all keeping well. Mary and Ray are sailing round the UK at the moment.If you’re interested you can follow their progress at http://www.sailblogs.com Go to Talora chasing tides. Best regards. Noel Codling

  65. “THE ONLY THING TO LOOK FORWARD TO IS THE PAST”…THE LIKELY LADS!

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