1. : Historical Juncture
Ken Chapman visited, during 1984, almost
every pub and hotel (if the latter had a
public bar) in the Greater Norwich area.
Looking back, this was a very useful time
to have done so, because :-
We will examine these points in turn, with an
- the peak of closures had been reached
in the 1960s;
- most of the remaining pubs were still
in the ownership of major breweries.
emphasis upon the emerging free house
2. : The Closures
In the last three years of the 1950s, 20 pubs
were closed, i.e. approximately 7 per annum.
1960 and 1961 both saw 8 closed, which is
hardly statistically significant.
However, an unprecedented (in post-war terms)
number of a dozen followed in 1962. This
was seen again in 1965, with ten in 1968 and
1970; and eleven in 1969.
Only in 1966 (just 4) did the figure fall below 8.
The total of losses for the period
1960 to 1970 (inclusive) was 101.
Although, unsurprisingly, there were "bad" years
thereafter (7 in 1974 and 8 in 1989); things soon
quietened down a lot; with only two closures in
each of 1972 and 1973.
So, by the time Chapman's survey was made,
the storm was over, and things had steadied
Also see separate notes
on brewery closures
in the 1960s and early-1970s.
3. : The Big Breweries
However, another storm was brewing (NO pun !)
in the late-1970s and early 80s, on account of
the stifling effect of the tied-houses of 3 major
brewers : Norwich Brewery (Watney's),
Courage and Whitbread.
Whitbread had arrived in 1966, having
taken-over all the former Lacon's houses.
Their list was the smallest of the 3 breweries,
simply because Lacon's had 'always' been
at the foot of the league table
(in more than one sense !).
Courage finally arrived in February 1972,
as a result of
Government action, and
were "awarded" some 43 pubs.
Nevertheless, Watney's (1963, under their
innocent alias) were still in a dominant position,
both in relation to their two competitors and
in relation to the small, but growing, Free Sector.
gave the following results for
1984, the total of houses surveyed being 233.
All but one of the original Courage houses
were accounted for, although one had already
been demolished : the
and two closed.
Of the rest : 7 had been released to other
ties : 3 to
Adnam's, and one to Ind Coope.
Hence 14 pubs had left Courage's hands.
Whitbread started earlier, and 22 of their
original houses were accounted for. Of these,
'problem pub' had been ceded to
Ind Coope; and two pubs to Greene King.
The most significant case was the release of
Ten Bells, between 1970 and 1975,
to the free sector.
While avoiding double-counting : we can
deduct the above new ties and (below) more
free houses - to arrive at the number still
held by the so-called Norwich Brewery.
4. : The Free Sector
Hotels had been the bedrock of this sector
since the Year Dot; but we should not ignore
the merry band of 'free' pubs, some of whom
had soldiered-on for decades.
However, what was of greater interest
- at the time - was the creation of new
free outlets; specialising in"Real Ale".
As described elsewhere,
the main gripe re
the big breweries was their concentration on
producing keg beers. Happily this was,
in the end, a self-defeating strategy;
and their market dominance began to crumble.
Courage, who - we must remember - had been
Continued . . .
forced to come to the City, were the first to start
off-loading pubs in any quantity, including the
7 free houses mentioned above.
However, by 1984, two of these had reverted to
Greene King tied houses (see 5. below)
The remaining five are, in probable date order :-
4. : The Free Sector (contd.)
Whitbread's, as we have noted, had made just
one concession to the free sector. However, an
official CAMRA report of 1977 gave the accolade
to the Ten Bells : The first of a new generation
of real-ale free-houses in the City.
Watney's could scarcely remain immune,However, in a "snapshot" survey such as this,
and were 'guilty' of ceding six houses.
Bizarrely, the Gardeners' Arms had left Bullard's
portfolio three years before the Watney takeover.
The 6 Watney pubs are :-
the broader picture can get confused.
There were, in fact, three more pubs released
to the free sector by Bullard's/Watneys; but,
sadly, by 1984 two had reverted to
Greene King tied houses (see 5. below).
Moreover, after 1984 (and aside from the
Pineapple closure ) the Plasterers and the
Reindeer eventually became tied also.
The odd one out was the White Lion,
which has had a very chequered history
(before and since) !.
In total, the 1984 survey found 30 hotels
and other free outlets. Hotels totalled 8; whilst
5 'pubs' were ancillary to other public provision,
e.g. in transport, education and entertainment.
5. : Minority Breweries
Tolly Cobbold of Ipswich had a small, but
longstanding presence; which was still,
apparently, at exactly the same level : viz.
four pubs - listed at the foot of the page.
Ind Coope had decided to relieve Whitbread's
of the white elephant mentioned in para. 3; and
had acquired (from Courage) just
1 extra outlet.
seems to have tied itself to the brewery.
Hence, probably 5 outlets in all, incl. the Lawyer
Adnam's were at a low starting point, with just
the three pubs generously ceded by Courage.
The freehold of the
Horse & Dray was
retained by Courage in 1977.
The Mill Tavern and the
Rose were apparently
handed-over (leased?) in the same year.
Greene King somehow bucked the trend,
by persuading Watney's to part with the
on Hall Road. They also had
both pubs transferred from Whitbread's :
the White Cottage and the
The four others in their 1984 portfolio present
a different, and highly disturbing, picture :-
Undermining the fledgling free market in this way
- The Brown Derby
was a freehouse in 1975
- The Ferry
free not long before 1984
- The Golden Star
had been a freehouse
probably since the 1960s
- The Lillie Langtry
a freehouse from c. 1981
was to be repeated in later years; and is currently
giving Greene King the ghastly title :
"The New Watney Mann".
Sadly, Adnam's had also - since 1996 - increased
their portfolio in much the same way; but to
little benefit in the longer term.
In all, there were 19 outlets tied to the smaller
regional/national breweries in 1984.
6. : Summary
Starting with a figure of 233 cases,
we can now deduct -
The breakdown between the Big Three
- 30 free outlets = 12.9 % and
- 19 miscellaneous ties = 8.1 %
breweries is then as follows :-
There was still plenty of room for improvement !.
- Courage : 32 = 13.7 %
- Whitbread : 19 = 8.2 %
- Norwich Brewery (Watney's) : 133 = 57.1 %