The Lighthouse at Cromer, which is the first lighthouse seen by vessels travelling south, after passing Flamborough Head, in Yorkshire, is built on an unusually hilly moraine area of the coast, known as the 'Cromer Ridge'; it was formed by the edge of an ice sheet, which pushed flattened much of Norfolk's landscape.
The strange looking Lighthouse seen here is the third to be built here, and a light was first shown from nearby this location in 1680 after being proposed by Sir John Clayton, who also suggested the construction of four other Lighthouses (Two on the Farne Islands and One on Flamborough Head and at Lowestoft)
The first tower was a octagonal structure not too dissimilar to the current one and was set in the centre of a single-story keeper's house.
The high cost of maintaining the four lights suggested and the fact that many ship owners of the time refused paying levys towards maintaining the Lighthouses meant that most of these Lights fell out of use and became Daymarks, although Sea Charts carried on describing the light at Cromer as "a lighthouse but no fire kept in it". In 1719, Nathaniel Life, who owned the land on which the earlier Lighthouse was built, decided to re-light the tower, and applied with a patent from Trinity House, with the help of one of Trinity Houses' younger brethrin 'Edward Bowell'. The light was lit and the lease remained for 61 years, after which Trinity House gained control of the light and recieved the levys. The second flashing light in the Trinity House Lighthouse Service was installed here in 1792, consisting of 5 metal reflectors and oil lamps on 3 sides of a skeletal clockwork-controled frame, which revolved by being wound up like a clock on a regular basis, by keepers of the light. Local fishermen described the rapid flash of the light as Irritating and will-o-the-wisp, resembling a flickering lamp, drawing travellers from their safe paths. Apparently as J Saxby writes, the first keepers of this Lighthouse were two young women who together recieved a £1 a week to keep the light, however this tower was destroyed by the sea in 1866.
Having foreseen the Lighthouse's destruction, a new replacement tower, which is the one seen today, was built over half of a mile inshore, in 1833.
The current tower is 18 metres in height and painted white - it was presumably designed by James Walker, who certainly designed Lighthouses for Trinity House between 1834 and 1861, but this is not known.
The strange appearance of the Lighthouse, caused by it's unfittingly small lantern came about in 1958, when the light was converted to electric operation; this was a standard design of Lantern used at the time, both on Lighthouses and more-often Lightships built by Trinity House.
The station was automated in 1990, but remained as a shore station for keepers being relieved or being sent out to the Light on the Inner Dowsing Light tower, as Cromer was the only shore Lighthouse in the area with a Helipad.
The light is now controlled from Trinity House's offices at Harwich, Essex.