Bottom   :  St. Stephen's   :  Norwich Pubs
Pub Topic

The Boar's Head   (1 to 7)

    2. The Greyhound  : 3.  Norgate's Era
4. Diver's Pre-war
      6. End Game : 7. Fred Philips

1. : Location

The well-known, even well-loved, photographs
- taken just prior to WWII - show a very large,
and very old thatched building dominating the
Surrey Street/St. Stephen's Street corner.

This was, however, a scene dating only
from 1925, when  Diver & Son  of London
undertook a major re-furbishment.

Perhaps as early as 1790 there were TWO
distinct, but adjacent, parts of the property :

  • The Surrey Street frontage (No. 2)
        was the pub.
  • The St. Stephen's frontage (No. 5)
        was a merchant business, operating
        under an "off-licence", for wines &
        spirits (including bottled beer)
        and selling groceries etc.
By 1890 there were off-sales at Nos. 5 and 7
St. Stephen's St., with different landlords.

2. : The Greyhound

It is recorded in 1454/6 as the house of
Mayor of Norwich, Alderman Richard Browne.
It became a pub sometime between then
and 1761 (see  Alehouse Recognizances).

This was the  original  name of the pub.
Its foundation date was possibly quite early
in the 17th Century. Detailed   research  can
be found separately; while we move on ....

The pub was one of only 44 principal
coaching inns listed in the 1783 Directory.
The landlords in 1761-64 & 1806 were
described as Innkeepers (i.e. full-timers);
which was  fairly unusual,  and denotes
a rather important house.

The Surrey Street location is confirmed
in every Directory entry since 1811.
In 1842 it is described as an  Inn;  and by
1850 it is listed in the  Hotels  section.
As late as 1883, it was still termed an Hotel.

3. : Norgate's Era

Richard Norgate of Cawston is recorded as
buying the pub in 1840 for £ 3200.

Significantly, the adjacent premises had been
owned by Howard Norgate, as early as 1790.
This was, by all accounts, a rough-and-tumble
place and not for the faint-hearted.

However, it was to be used as a shop for
"off-sales" i.e. wines and spirits; as well as
bottled beer.

It is possible that Richard's £ 3200 also
covered next-door; to keep both premises
in the family.

Norgates changed the name of the pub to
the  Boar's Head  around 1843, as it was
on the family crest : "demi-boar rampant".

Licensee of the off-licence outlet in 1845 was
John Norgate. This business was much
upgraded by  Norgate & Co.,  and given
its own name of  Gauntlet  - again probably
from a Norgate family emblem.
Indeed by 1861 the  Gauntlet  occupied
the re-built prominent corner-site.

However, that enterprise collapsed
towards the end of the Norgate reign.

Further details of both outlets, over the
period to 1906, can be found under the
separate Norgate notes (link as above).

In the mid-19th Century the newly-named
pub was at the heart of city life; with
the place packed on market days, and
with stagecoaches - to & from London -
stopping there. Not for the faint-hearted.

Riddington Young   (p. 12 & 13) describes
the "concert room" which became, in 1854,
the home of the first Norwich  music-hall,
known as  The Shades.  He also notes that
the  Norwich Licensed Victuallers' Association
was formed at the pub that very same year,
with Fred Philips as president. ( See para. 7 )

4. : Diver's Pre-War

The halcyon days (including the first Norwich "coach station") being over,  Diver & Son  of
Great Yarmouth acquired the premises some
time after 1894. If they continued the
wines and spirits business, then it was
under the licence of  Boar's Head  alone.

Their first tenure was short. In July 1900
brewers  Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton  took over.
Alfred Norgate, as licensee, survived both
changes of control - until July 1906.

The photograph of c. 1904 in  STANDLEY :
Norwich - in old postcards, Volume 1, page 39
shows Norgate & Sons as agents for
Bass, Ind Coope & Co. and Guinness.

Apparently one W. H. Bayfield held the licence
for a long period from 1906, making way for
Alfred J. Paten in October 1925; this Alfred
being a representative of  Diver & Son -
of  London,  rather than Great Yarmouth.

By the 1920s the pub was esp. popular with
farmers on market days; and, by then, buses
had replaced stage-coaches, which formerly
used the inn as a departure/arrival point.

Indeed, many of the stage-coaches (to & from
London) had habitually used the inn; so it
was (then) packed with drinkers & entertainers.

When  Diver's  resumed control in 1925
they took the bull by the horns and completely
remodelled the site, albeit retaining most of
the ancient structure.

Derek James felt that Diver's money was spent
not too early, but it did restore the property
to its former glory.


5. : Diver's Post-War

We know the Olde Worlde pastiche masterpiece
of 1925 was destroyed in the Blitz of 1942.
Alfred John Paten had been licensee
since October 1925.

By June 1950 the licensee was
Henry StJohn Brading Paten (until Nov. 1951),
signalling an intention to re-build.
The 4-storey structure, built to a new
road-widening line, took shape in 1952/3.

Frank Edward Rosser was licensee from
November 1951 until 1967 or later.

The new pub opened on 10th Decr. 1953
(possibly 1952 ??). It was said to have
"solid dignity". Oil paintings were bought
from the Royal Academy for the walls; and
customers could relax in front of an open fire
- in leather armchairs - before eating
in one of the TWO fine restaurants.
It continued as a good-time meeting-place
for the people of Norwich and Norfolk.

The  Bystanders Society  survey of 1961
was happy to call the pub a Free House.

Described as "new", in a 1962 advertisement,
was the  Continental Restaurant and Bar.

6. : The End Game

On 2nd Oct. 1964  Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton
of Burton, again took control.
Riddington Young  describes, in some graphic
detail, an internal refurbishment which occurred
in 1966. This seems to have been a very early
example of a Theme Pub, the theme in this
case being  Flemish  'cottage-style'.

The new bar was renamed Windmill Saloon.
But the Continental bar, the Surrey Lounge
and a smoke-room continued in use.

As ever, the theme soon faded;
and by 1971 all traces were removed :-

"The premises were converted into one
large, stark,dimly-lit room with no windows.
A dais was built at one end (for a pop-group)
and a large dancing area left in the centre.

First, in the early 1970s, Gloria & Mike Patch;
and then the Norwich entertainer Tony Weston,
turned the place into  Barbarella's  night-club,

It was the first (modern) music hall in Norwich.
The space-age night club, which was also
the trendy night-spot back in those days.
It was formally opened by  Roy Castle
in December 1971; with the delightful assistance
of 4 imported barmaids; and later, but swiftly,
attracted some Pretty Big names.

Later, Bob Monkhouse, the Barron Knights,
Kathy Kirby, Pickettywitch, Michael Bentine
and many more, were booked to play at
the "space-age, late-night rendezvous"
where locals such as the much-loved
Roy Remo also worked.

The 1971 pub layout would also have enabled
the locally famous  Mutton Chop Banjo Band
to do their stuff on Saturday nights.

Harry Rabinowitz was the guitarist in the
resident band in the 1970s, and met his wife
when Roy Castle was doing his cabaret act !
He notes that the Beverley Sisters and
the Kay Sisters also appeared.

Those were the days of big hair and flares,
but very little time elapsed before
the pub closed in the Autumn of 1974.
Bob said : I remember Barbarella's well;
(during a visit to Norwich much later)
They never did pay me, he added.
His recipient thought he was joking!

Harking back to pre-1974, many customers
thought real stars of this club were :
showman, agent, singer and Norwich
landlord Roy Reymo and the one & only
Tony "Mr Showbiz" Weston; the prime
star of the former Washington Club 400.

The building has since been sub-divided into
a bewildering variety of inferior uses.

7. : Fred Philips

A story, with scarcely a happy ending, relates
to this stage performer, who was playing
Rob Roy  at the  Theatre Royal in 1851.
Sadly he fell from 'a fictitious precipice'
and broke a leg and ankle.

Injuries required the limb to be amputated
below the knee. Having endured the
operation 'with great fortitude', he
later (July 1853) became the pub licensee.

Luckily, Norgate & Co. had offered the pub :
for a  suitable Tenant, with sufficient capital,
at a very modest rent
  in May 1853.

As a true showman, Fred was the
organising genius of  The Shades;
with seats for 200 people.

By 23rd Sep. 1854, it was advertised that
New Wine Shades  was a splendid success
and crowds were unable to obtain admission;
despite the current 300 accommodation.

In the Chop Room ('Chop House' by 1844)
they could get a chop, bread, potatoes & ale
for 1 penny under a shilling. For 7½ more
pence, an Imperial Gill of port might
send you on your way with a smile.

From Sept. 1854 every evening heard a
free  vocal and instrumental concert,  by parties
of London professionals - but this was
for "gentlemen only".

The shop next door might well have provided
an Imperial Quart, of port or sherry, at only
5 shillings (or a pint/half ...) for attendees.

Despite "Singers of the Highest Celebrity"
from London, the venture quickly failed
and Philips left fairly soon thereafter, taking
editorship of the Norwich Argus instead.

It would seem that he was himself a
'London professional' when he had
performed at the Theatre Royal.

Further details of Big Fred supplied by
Derek James of the Eastern Evening
News in May 2015.