Bottom   :  Pub Numbers   :  Topics List   :  Norwich Area Pubs
Special Topic

(Paras. 1 to 7)

Norwich Area

Pubs in 1991

The Unicorn Guide


2. Big Breweries :  3. Free Sector   5. New Kids :  6. Summary :  7. A 1988 survey

1. : Introduction

The Guide was published by an unlikely firm(?)
called  Unicorn Games,  of Armes St., Norwich.
The original publication date was August 1990;
although a healthy demand for the book saw a
re-print in October and a new 1991 Edition.

Anyway, it would be wise to assume that the
survey of all  215  pubs took place in mid-1990.

Inevitably, certain pubs were omitted; perhaps
currently empty, or being rather remote, namely -
     the  Albert,   the  Blue Boar,
     the  Crown Point,   and the  Woodside.
The pubs in most of Costessey
were not surveyed at all :-
     the  Bush,   the  Crown,
     the  Round Well  and the  White Hart.

Perhaps  Boswell's  and   Hector's House
were omitted by 'virtue' of being "café bars".
Finally, there was no mention of  Muswell's  -
formerly "Quick's" (see para. 4).

So a realistic total  226  pubs can be assumed.
This total compares with 233 in the
Chapman Survey  of 1984.
However, 7 of the 8  hotels  listed by Chapman
do not appear in the 1991 Guide.

Despite differences in scope/compilation of the
lists, this indicates a clear slowdown in the
hectic pace of closures, which occurred in
the 1960s and 1970s particularly.

2. : The Big Breweries

3 major brewers were noted in the 1984 Survey
Norwich Brewery  (Watney's),
Whitbread, Courage.

By 1990 Watney's had, once again, changed
title to  Manns & Norwich;  although their office
was registered in Harlestone Rd., Northampton.
The only real ales they claimed to supply were -
Webster's  Yorkshire bitter and  Ruddles County.

We have included 3 pubs held by
Grand Metropolitan Hotels  under  Manns etc. 
summary; as 'Grand Met.' were well-known as
the firm who took over Watney Mann (1972).

By 1990 there were 8 pubs trading under
the name of  "Chef & Brewer".
The list of 8 premises (3.7 % of the total) is :-


These pubs were a Grand Met notion,
and the 1988 survey (para.7) shows that
Norwich Brewery  beers comprised the  Brewer
part, albeit after the Norwich Brewery
had been closed (April 1985).

The total of  Watney's  [for simplicity] pubs
was 86, vastly down on the 1984 figure of 135.
The % figure of 40.0% was correspondingly
down on the 1984 figure of 57.1%.

Whitbread,  principally the inheritors of all the
former Lacon's houses, were at 2  above  the
number of pubs held in 1984 : 21 instead of 19.
They had added the   Merchants of Colegate
and the  Forge  to their list, both previously
free houses.
They also operated two houses under the name
"Berni Inns" : Norfolk Tavern  &  Rushcutters.

Courage,  in the City since 1971, were listed
with 30 pubs, as against the 1984 total of 32.
This nevertheless gives a slight increase to
13.9%, from the earlier figure of 13.7%

^Top^

3. : The Free Sector

Eight hotels had been surveyed in 1984; but all,
save the  Maid's Head,  were not included in
the 1991 survey.
That establishment was listed under Mann's,
Adnam's and Greene King breweries; so was
- ostensibly - neither tied nor free!!

This leaves 21 free houses to be accounted for.
Happily, 14 stalwart cases survived until 1990,
but 7 losses had been sustained.
Conversely, the Free Sector had gained 5 more
pubs; bringing the 1990 total to 20 (including
the hotel); or a miserly  9.3%  of the 215 outlets.

Dealing firstly with the losses, in addition to
the  Merchants  and  Forge  (see para. 2) :-

Dealing with the accretions :-

 

4. : Minority Breweries

Tolly Cobbold,  of Ipswich, remained at exactly
the 1984 level : four pubs - listed at the foot of
the  1984 page.

Ind Coope - ignoring the  Lansdowne Hotel -
had lost the  Alexandra  to Greene King
(see below); and  Muswell's   was moribund
when the Guide was being prepared.
This reduced their count to just two pubs :
the  Lawyer   and the  Queen's Arms.

Adnam's  were still at their low starting point,
with just the 3 pubs listed in 1984. (But see
impending developments with  Whitbread's)

Greene King  in 1990 had retained all 7 pubs
listed in the 1984 Survey. In addition they had
acquired the  Coach & Horses  in Bethel Street
and the  Alexandra,  Old Palace Rd.; from
Watney Mann and Ind Coope respectively.
The latter was closed only 7 years later.

The 1984 Survey revealed the undermining
of the fledgling free market by Greene King -
particularly noticeable in their arrival at
the  Ten Bells  in December 1987.
Such activity is currently giving Greene King
the ghastly title of "The New Watney Mann".

Charrington's  had taken over the
James I  and  Norkie   pubs since 1984.

Messrs. Bass  had just the one pub :
the famous  Gundry White's.

In all,  22 outlets were tied to the smaller
regional/national breweries in 1990;
giving a respectable 10.2% of the total.

5. : New Kids on the Block

As the old  brewery  hierarchies collapsed,
a new breed of "pub companies" ( PubCos )
emerged : mainly property-oriented, but who
also considered themselves part of the
'leisure industry'.

One was the short-lived  Brent Walker  group,
who owned 23 houses in Norwich by 1990.

All these properties appear to have been ceded
by the Watney Mann/Grand Met. group; with the
exception of the  White Lion  (see para. 3 above).
They accounted for 10.7% of the total,
i.e. more than the free houses.

Another was  Clifton Inns  with 13 outlets,
and registering 6.0% of the total.  

6. : Summary

Starting with the figure -  as published  -
of 215 cases, we can now deduct :
  • 20 free outlets = 9.3 % and
  • 22 miscellaneous ties = 10.2 %
The breakdown between the  Big Five
companies is then as follows :-
Clifton Inns13  -6.0 %
Whitbread21  -9.8 %
Brent Walker23  -10.7 %
Courage30  -14.0 %
Manns & Norwich86  -40.0 %
(incl. Chef & Brewer)

Both of the above names were new to
Norwich since 1984. They had clearly
plundered the large stock of pubs held by
the failed and subordinated  Watney Mann
organisation - in all its many titles and forms.

Grand Met.  itself has since disappeared from
the pub scene; making way for other "PubCos",
such as Pubmaster, Enterprise Inns,
Punch Taverns and Phoenix Inns.

Their Chef & Brewer chain, advertised in
October 1986, eventually fell to
Scottish & Newcastle  (1993)

Best of all, more  free houses  have also
resulted from the upheavals of the 1990s.  

7. : A 1988 Survey

There is a postscript for a slightly earlier
survey, carried out  by students for students.
(The Crawl Club)

The pages are short of quite a few - mainly
outlying - pubs; although revealing the
Horsham Bar  in Fifers Lane,
being for the benefit of students in
the Norwich North residences of the time.

The survey was done only a couple of years
before our main item; but every little helps
where historic evidence is available.


Top   :  Norwich Pubs