1. : Disclaimer
This part of the website does not set out to be
entertaining : it is about the public-houses
themselves and their locations.
Nor does it deal, at any length, with the entertainment
aspect of pubs : whether a pool table, dartboard,
pianist/accordionist or a karaoke evening.
Riddington Young relates many fascinating tales
of the extravagant entertainments enjoyed in the
19th Century and earlier.
These "ancient" activities, or the more modern ones,
fall into two obvious groups : Outdoor and Indoor.
Given our climate, indoor ones have always been
important; but need not detain us long, as many
(e.g. darts) have little to do with the structures
of the buildings in which they occur.
Skittle alleys, however, seem to have disappeared
altogether; probably ending up as inside toilets.
2. : Funseekers
Self-evidently, modern transport (especially the car -
despite legislation on drinking and driving) has
enabled people to travel to pubs other than those
in the immediate vicinity.
Now, if they are still looking for entertainment
(after the cinema and TV were supposed to have
killed-off all pubs), they will probably end up in
one of the larger premises - where bands or
'pop-groups' can perform to biggish audiences.
Certainly, very many "locals" closed down in the
middle years of the 20th Century, whose traditional
"singalongs" - to the tinkling of an old piano -
had lost the earlier appeal.
In what proportions blame can be attached to the
cinema, TV or car, is now a moot point; assuming
that the pubs stayed closed or got demolished.
3. : Excursions
More than a century before widespread car ownership,
i.e. even before The Car itself arrived, longer-distance
travel had been given a huge boost by the railways.
Although most pleasure-trips were to the seaside,
the general scope for open-air activities and 'sights'
expanded greatly (e.g. Brundall Gardens Halt).
A sharp decline followed in the number of
"pleasure gardens" attached to City pubs.
Those within the City Centre soon found a more
profitable use, involving building-over and
destroying the open spaces.
Eventually, in the early years of the 20th C., the
City Council tried to remedy the deficiencies by
creating public parks; although, by definition,
these were neither inside the Walls,
nor in the adjacent "built-up areas".
 The number was reduced by one
by the railway itself - see Victoria Station.
4. : Density
Some fair time after WWII, soaring land-values
placed in jeopardy those remaining bits of
"underused" land attached to several pubs beyond
the City Walls.
Generally, the land consisted of bowling-green(s).
It was blithely assumed that the sport had gone
permanently out of fashion, or that the relatively
new Public Parks could cope with the demand.
In fact, the breweries were focussing on
maximising their profits. In some luckier
Prince of Denmark), the majority
of the land was given over to housing,
but the pub itself remained.
A sad example, on the other hand, was at the
Jolly Gardeners :
where a fine old building was
also demolished, and the entire site re-developed.
5. : The Local
It still exists.
There is still, after all, the beer (preferably good,
local stuff), the friendliness of Mine Host, the
"regulars" and even some modest entertainment.
A few favoured pubs, ever more distant from the
City centre, still cling to their bowling-greens
and/or Beer Gardens.
Indoors, fashions come and go : darts has been
partially eclipsed by pool, cribbage by quiz-nights.
Karaoke too has, at least, brought back the
audience participation factor that the piano
"singalongs" used to involve.
The decline of inter-pub competitions seems a
considerable pity - e.g. cribbage; but there is no
fundamental reason why such events cannot,
eventually, enjoy a resurgence.
However, the sale of bowling-greens for
house-building has brought that aspect of
traditional pub-based sporting activity to a
grim finality in very many cases.