The Bath House – Happy Memories in Cromer

Just like at the end of the Titanic, when the movie flashes back to the golden good times of the glorious ship, my mind often flashes back to the days when my Grandparents owned a wonderful pub and B&B on the seafront in Cromer, Norfolk. Just like the way Rose’s memory takes us along the decks of the ship with the friendly faces of the staff greeting her, I think back to the bar, kitchen, halls and bedrooms of The Bath House, along with the various bar staff, waiters and waitresses and of course my Grandparent’s welcoming faces.

Their free house pub was on Cromer’s sunny promenade, so in the summer they would have lots of tables outside so people could sit, drink and eat overlooking the beach, pier and out to the North Sea. My Grandad Bert was proud of his range of beer and ale and was the perfect landlord welcoming tourists and locals alike with a jolly attitude. They welcomed children over 14 in the bar, but any younger would need to stay outside – those local fisherman propped up at the bar were a rowdy bunch! My Grandma was the chief in the kitchen and they served up proper hand-made pub grub, along with local specialities based around the famous Cromer Crab! Some of the most popular dishes were Mariner’s Fish Bake, Scampi and Chips, Steak and Guinness Pie (with Grandma’s delicious wholemeal pastry lid), Beef Lasagne, Cromer Crab Salad and my favourite was the Turkey Curry. The baker they used made the most amazing French bread – I can still remember the taste of it thickly spread with salty butter and mango chutney!

Until I was 11 I lived in Essex, and every Summer my sister and I would have a week-long holiday at The Bath House, staying in one of the lovely rooms complete with tea making facilities (such a novelty at that age!). We would go down to breakfast like any other guest every morning. A pot of tea for two and a rack of white toast – my Grandma would use Mighty White bread for the toast as she thought it gave it an extra crunch. There would be little silver bowls of triangular sliced butter and one of marmalade, along with individual portions of other jams and honey. A little table was laid out with jugs of orange, grapefruit and apple juice alongside a small selection of cereal and milk. A mistake would be to fill up too much on this – the full breakfast was amazing! Sausages from the local butcher, crispy bacon, eggs how you like them, fried bread (I would spread mine with ketchup), black pudding if you wanted it, mushrooms and tomatoes. If you didn’t want this you could have any type of egg cooked to your liking or local kippers.

My Grandparents, Bert and Barbara Wheston owned the pub from 1982 – 1995, and left due to the ill-health of my Grandad Bert. He soon recovered after selling up, and I often think they regret leaving when they did – I know I wish they had kept it long enough for me to take over! They have so many stories of lock-ins, celebrity guests and lovely guests. I truly believe that it added a huge amount to the town of Cromer as a tourist destination. It was taken over by brothers in 1995, and their big ideas for change and improvement, which really weren’t needed, left them struggling and unable to make the pub work as a business. In 1998 it was bought by a couple with apparent grand plans to turn it into an upmarket, boutique B&B, serving meals around the £35 per head mark. This never materialised, and the property is now used as a private house. I’m not sure whether the council has ever authorised this and it upsets me every time I see it – almost like looking at images of the sunken titanic (but obviously on a much smaller scale!!).

Perhaps my new project should be to bring back The Bath House Hotel to its former glory! If anyone has any stories, memories or ideas to bring back The Bath House please get in touch!


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7 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Restaurants, Uncategorized

7 responses to “The Bath House – Happy Memories in Cromer

  1. Hi katy,
    Lovely article! My parents have a house near Cromer (East Runton) and I’ve just spent the weekend up there. Is the Bath House the Yellow one in the photo? If so, I know exactly where it is and it’s a lovely spot. Sadly, Cromer doesn’t have very many nice places to eat and there’s a lot of rubbishy fish n chip shops so I think you should do it! Buy it back, make it back into a great proper pub with reasonable prices and I’m sure it’d do well. I’ll be your first patron!

    Jo

  2. Hi Jo, it is such a great location isn’t it – and Cromer definitely needs somewhere good to eat! I would love to buy it back – so I guess I better start saving!! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Sara Busby

    Hi Katy, I’ve only just come across your article as I was reminded of many happy family holidays in Cromer from the mid-80’s to early 90’s following a Countryfile programme recently. I thought I’d look up The Bath House as I remember sampling the hospitality there on many occasions. I remember the meals you mention which were always delicious and over the years I probably sampled most of them! What a shame it’s now a private residence. Maybe one day it will be restored to its former glory. Here’s hoping.

    Sara

    • Thanks for your comment – my Grandma got stopped in the street in Cromer just the other day and someone said how fondly they remember her ‘Mariner’s Fish Bake’ ha. Funny how you can remember food, and the memories it brings back. I hope it will be restored too : )

  4. james @ molly froggatt

    dear katy,finding your site brought back many happy memories of long gone days in Cromer.My wifr and i spent many happy weeks at the bath house,and were always impressed by the quality of the food,and the friendiness of Bert @ Barbara,the ultimate hosts.I reember my son asking Bert “do you have a happy hour”Berts laconic reply was “every hour at the Bath House is a happy hour”and it certainly was.I do not know if during your stays you experienced any unworldly happenings,but my wife an d i remember speaking to an elderly lady,who we assumed to be a guest,I can visualise her now on the first floor of the hotal,but next morning when we asked bert why only our table was laid for breakfast,we were told that no other guests had been booked in. When we mentioned this ti the waiter we were asked not to metion it to Barbara,I wonder if anyone else experienced this?

    • Thanks for your comment! They were great hosts and still are, happily I’ve now moved back to Cromer and live very near them which is lovely. I love that Grandad Bert said ‘every hour at the Bath House is a happy hour’, will remind him of that and you too, he has a very good memory! Regarding the old lady, I can only think of Eileen, who used to do all their ironing for them… but I will ask them about it and let you know! Spooky!

  5. Andy

    Hi Katy

    I remember you at the Bath House and Bert & Barbara, a very friendly hotel, good beer and food. I recall Bert being upset as customers complained about the cost of crab sandwiches as being charged say £3.50 but the sign by the entrance said something like £2.00 – it was soon changed! Happy days
    and evenings.

    Andy

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