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Norwich Area

Pubs in 1984

The Chapman Survey

  Picture  Ken Chapman

2. The Closures :  3. Big Breweries
4. Free Sector
  5. Minority Breweries :  6. Summary

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 :-
  • the peak of closures had been reached
    in the 1960s;
  • most of the remaining pubs were still
    in the ownership of major breweries.
We will examine these points in turn, with an
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
- numerically.

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.

 The Survey   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  Jolly Maltsters
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,
one  'problem pub'  had been ceded to
Ind Coope;  and two pubs to  Greene King.
The most significant case was the release of
the  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
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 :-

Continued . . .

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,
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 :-

However, in a "snapshot" survey such as this,
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,   Oak St.;
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.
However, the  Lansdowne Hotel,   untypically,
seems to have tied itself to the brewery.
Hence, probably 5 outlets in all, incl. the  Lawyer
and   Queen's Arms.

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
King's Arms   on Hall Road. They also had
both pubs transferred from Whitbread's :
the  White Cottage  and the  Windmill.

The four others in their 1984 portfolio present
a different, and highly disturbing, picture :-

  • 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
Undermining the fledgling free market in this way
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 -
  • 30 free outlets = 12.9 % and
  • 19 miscellaneous ties = 8.1 %
The breakdown between the  Big Three
breweries is then as follows :-
  • Courage : 32 = 13.7 %
  • Whitbread : 19 = 8.2 %
  • Norwich Brewery  (Watney's) : 133 = 57.1 %
There was still plenty of room for improvement !.

Tolly Pubs

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