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Cromer Carnival is a real family affair for committee member and local history buff

PUBLISHED: 15:57 04 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:57 05 July 2018

Cromer Carnival stalwart Peter Burrows, who first took part in the parade in 1952
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Cromer Carnival stalwart Peter Burrows, who first took part in the parade in 1952 Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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In the latest in a series of profiles focusing on Cromer Carnival volunteers, KAREN BETHELL chats to Peter Burrows, who first took part in the parade in the year of the Queen’s coronation.

A carnival float depicting the 1974 sugar shortage
Photo: Peter Burrows archiveA carnival float depicting the 1974 sugar shortage Photo: Peter Burrows archive

When local history buff Mr Burrows first rode on a carnival float with his school gym team in 1952, it sparked a lifelong involvement with the annual event, as well as more than 30 years of building floats for the parade.

Living with his grandparents in Cadogan Road while his father was away fighting in the Second World War, Mr Burrows developed a passion for history while listening to their recollections of town events.

The Burrows family on a Swiss cuckoo clock float
Photo: Peter Burrows archiveThe Burrows family on a Swiss cuckoo clock float Photo: Peter Burrows archive

“As a family, we can trace our roots back in Cromer to the 1700s and, sitting round the dinner table, we always talked about the town’s history, so I suppose that’s where my interest came from,” he said.

Now 79, Mr Burrows has turned a spare room at his Colne Road home into an archive containing thousands of photographs, postcards, newspaper cuttings and other Cromer memorabilia dating back to the 1940s.

The Burrows family on their Ugly Bug Ball float in 1998
Photo: Peter Burrows archiveThe Burrows family on their Ugly Bug Ball float in 1998 Photo: Peter Burrows archive

These include pictures of the 1942 bombing of Church Street - showing Mr Burrows’ mother Ida helping with the clean-up effort, RNLI cuttings and dozens of shoeboxes full of carnival photographs.

Mr Burrows, who worked as a poultry farmer and stonemason before spending 30 years as a supervisor at Cromer building supplies company Travis Perkins, began helping with the carnival 47 years ago.

The Singer sewing machine built by Peter Burrows and his family for the Cromer Carnival parade in 1997. 
Photo: Peter Burrows archiveThe Singer sewing machine built by Peter Burrows and his family for the Cromer Carnival parade in 1997. Photo: Peter Burrows archive

“I just drifted into it really,” he explained. “I joined the committee in 1988, then took on organising Tuesday of carnival week and helping to arrange military band concerts in the church in the evening.”

He went on to take on responsibility for carnival day arena events, organising the traditional children’s party at North Lodge Park, and running the end-of-carnival torchlight procession.

The Burrows family float based on comedian Ken Dodd and his Diddy Men in 1989
Photo: Peter Burrows archiveThe Burrows family float based on comedian Ken Dodd and his Diddy Men in 1989 Photo: Peter Burrows archive

Over the years, Mr Burrows, his wife Margaret and their children Julie and Philip have all helped with the annual event, with the family entering dozens of home made floats into the parade,

Float themes have ranged from a Swiss cuckoo clock, a Singer sewing machine and a windmill, to comedian Ken Dodd and his Diddy Men and the Ugly Bug Ball.

Church Street and High Street in Cromer after the German bombing of July 1942. Cromer Carnival historian Peter Burrows' grandmother Ida helped with the clean-up effort after the disaster
Photo: submittedChurch Street and High Street in Cromer after the German bombing of July 1942. Cromer Carnival historian Peter Burrows' grandmother Ida helped with the clean-up effort after the disaster Photo: submitted

Although he has taken a step back from carnival duties in recent years, Mr Burrows is still a committee member and, with grandsons James, 13, and Jake, 18, and granddaughter Amy, 15, now helping with events, it is still very much a family affair.

“If you’re involved in the carnival, then the whole family has to be, otherwise it just wouldn’t work,” he said.

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