Category Archives: Norfolk

Sea Palling Pubs

Sea Palling is a small village on the east coast of Norfolk. We were sad to find that the Old Hall Inn had closed since our last visit earlier this year, although we enjoyed good food and drink in Reefs Bar, the one remaining pub in the village.

Old Hall Inn

Old Hall Inn

The building is described as both “originally three separate dwellings, dating from the 16th century” and “dating back to the middle of the 17th century… formerly a farmhouse”. It only became a pub relatively recently, in the late 1960s, although the wood beamed interior still gave it the feel of an old drinking haunt, and it apparently had the requisite ghosts – the “figure of a woman in grey clothing”, “the sweet, sickly smell of strong tobacco”, and a resident poltergeist.

Old Hall

It closed in March this year and in May the large eight bedroom establishment was sold at auction for a mere £160,000 and is currently being converted back into a residential dwelling – the low price probably reflects the scale of work needed, with replacing the roof already in progress.

There is still a pub in Sea Palling, Reefs Bar, next to the slipway, the dunes standing in the way of sea views, but very close to the encroaching North Sea.

Reefs Bar


Reefs is a 1950s built pub that sits just this side of the dunes as you approach the beach. It’s been busy each time we’ve visted, and the Wolf Ale, presumably the regular real ale, has always been in top nick. On this occasion we also had a decent vegetarian lasagne and chips to accompany it, before taking our beers to the outdoor benches to soak up the sea air.

There have been at least three pubs in this area of the village. Faden’s Map of 1797 shows the Ship, a pub situated very close to the shore – it’s possible it was claimed by the sand and sea, much like the former Church of St Mary’s at nearby Eccles-on-Sea.

ReefsThe Lifeboat Inn, situated further inland down beach road, was recorded by at least 1858 but was destroyed by the 1953 floods. It was rebuilt as a single storey building where it stands today, then a Lacons pub named the lifeboat Tavern, becoming ‘Reefs’ in 2004 when the current landlord took over – it is named after the reefs that have been placed just offshore as part of the coast defenses. According to Norfolk Pubs, it gained a full licence when the license was removed from the nearby Cock Inn in 1959.

Cock Inn

The Cock Inn was a large building that stood further inland on the corner of Beach Road and The Street from at least 1794 (Norfolk Pubs). It closed in the late 1950s and was demolished. The last publican there may have been Walter George Austrin, a boat builder who in 1963 is recorded as “formerly at the Old Cock Inn”, he also operated a Tea Stall on the beach at Sea Palling.

You can still get beer and hot drinks in Sea Palling, though the tides seem perilously close to calling time.

Green, Andrew – Ghosts of today (1980)
Pearse, Bowen – The Ghost-Hunter’s Casebook: The Investigations of Andrew Green Revisited (2011)
Norfolk Pubs
Reefs Bar

Hickling pubs

Hickling is a village situated on the edge of Hickling Broad, the largest of the Norfolk Broads. The village has two pubs, the Pleasure Boat at the staithe, and the Greyhound Inn less than a mile away in the village centre. In 1735 there were apparently five beer outlets. Two of those – the Bull and the White Horse – survived into the 20th century and the buildings exist as private houses.

Pleasure Boat:

Pleasure Boat Inn

The Pleasure Boat has apparently been here since at least the mid 1700s. Situated at Hickling Staithe, with views across Hickling Broad, this waterside pub recently became a freehouse and has a new lease of life under new management. Ten beers were on tap, impressive for a village pub, and the ones we tried were in good nick. An extension to the pub has a dining room overlooking the broad, and even a small shop. There are great views across the broad from the beer garden which also has a marquee for the regular live music.

Birds, Beasts and Fishes of the Norfolk Broadland (1895) describes a scene on Christmas Eve morning as crowds gathered for ‘coot-shooting’ on Hickling Broad:

“Long before the old church clock has struck eleven, crowds begin to collect at the ‘Pleasure Boat’ all crushing into the tap-room, and calling for jugs of mild whilst carts keep arriving; finally, the little green staithe is gay with laughing men and youths. Soon all the party has collected, some ninety persons, of strange dress and stranger accoutrements.There is much talk, and joking, and cheering as they crowd into the open boats – pleasure-boats, old cobles, marsh boats – some propelled by oars, others by quants (poles).

So the chaffing flotilla of forty boats, for many have brought their boats over-night from mill-outlets and distant broads and meres, goes shoving and rowing off on to the broad, whose hundreds of acres of water gleam and ripple in the cold morning sun.”

Later, after the shoot…

“You see the scattered flotilla of forty boats making for the inn… and soon the short winter day is over, and the noisy crowd at the inn disperses, making their way through the dark lanes and muddy roads for home”

Another account from the late 19th century, the Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk & Suffolk (1891) records:

“Then we went to Hickling staithe, at the north end, where there is an inn, the ‘Pleasure Boat’… Boats of a rough kind can be obtained here for fishing purposes. They are long, narrow, and flat-bottomed, and the usual method of propulsion is by ‘setting’. The setter sits in the extreme stern, and pushes the boat along with a light pole, at a great rate. There are often setting races at local regattas, and great fun they are.

The number of broken-up lateeners on the shores of the Broad attest the decay of large pleasure-boat sailing on these remote waters, but the smaller class of centre-board boats are coming into favour, and are, perhaps, more suitable.”

Whereas propelling a ‘long, narrow and flat bottomed boat with a light pole’ is nowadays a familiar leisure pursuit in Cambridge, in Norfolk the former trading wherry Albion, all sixty feet and twenty odd tons of it, is still sometimes punted along a river when there’s not enough wind for the sails.

A photo published in 1897 (Sun Pictures of the Norfolk Broads – Payne Jennings) and a postcard from 1904 show the inn with a lean-to on the west side of the building:

Pleasure Boat Inn, Hickling C19th

A painting from 1905 shows a two-storey extension has replaced it:

Hickling Pleasure Boat

By 1913 a single storey extension was added to the east side, overlooking the staithe. It’s been rebuilt and enlarged several times to create the present dining area with views across Hickling Broad.



A wonderful village pub, friendly to visitors and with plenty of local characters inside. We’ve eaten here several times and always enjoy it – there are usually a couple of veggie choices. Beers on when visited recently were Marstons EPA straight from the cask, JW Lees Bitter, Greene King Golden Hen and the ubiquitous Woodfordes Wherry.

According to the Greyhound Inn, “It is believed that the Inn dates back to the 1600s though may well be earlier than that. There are records that only go back as far as 1735, when at that time the village boasted five pubs”. For over 300 years this brick and flint building would have had views across fields until the Green was developed in the late 20th century. There is a lovely beer garden that has the feel of sitting in a private cottage garden.

Greyhound beer garden

The Parish Magazine records some curious sounding dinners held at the Greyhound in the 1890s – the ‘Annual Coal Meeting’, the ‘Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Hickling Commissioners of Drainage’ and in 1898 “The Rational Sick and Burial Club Dinner, which was held in the Club Room at the ‘Greyhound Inn’ on February 4th, was a great success… a large number of members sat down to an excellent dinner. After dinner there were toasts and speeches and songs”

Closed pubs:

White Horse:

White Horse

A few doors north of the Greyhound, now a private house called White Lodge. In 1819 an auction for Hickling towermill took place at the pub. William Lambert, who was born in the village in 1916, said the pub was closed before he was born. However, the ‘White Horse P.H.’ was still shown on a 1957 Ordanance Survey map. The building recently sold for £275,000 and was described as having solid oak flooring and a beamed ceiling.



Situated on the outskirts of the village, on Town Street near St Mary’s Church, the Bull is listed in White’s Directory of Norfolk 1836 but Norfolk Pubs dates it back further to at least the late 1700s. It was closed around 1970 and is now Hickling House, a residential care home.

The pub name ‘the Bull’ is apparently “an ancient and widespread sign, which may well have begun by referring to a papal bull, the leaden seal attached to the pope’s edicts” (Wordsworth Dictionary of Pub Names, 2006). This might be the meaning here, since the pub stands on land that borders the remains of Hickling Priory, founded in 1185 and dissolved in 1536. A History of the County of Norfolk (W. Page, 1906) refers to Hickling Priory and the papal bull:

In September, 1343, Martin de Hapesburgh, canon of the priory of Hickling, petitioned the pope to order the abbot and convent of St. Benedict, Holme, to receive him as a monk according to the mandate of Benedict III from which the abbot, at the suggestion of the prior of Hickling, did remove the bull. The petition was granted, provided it was found that Pope Benedict did make a special mandate. The following December Clement VI issued his mandate to the bishop of Norwich, the dean of Lincoln, and the chancellor of Hereford to cause Martin de Hapesburgh to be received into the monastery of Holme.

Hickling can be reached by the River Thurne and Hickling Broad, just over an hour by boat or 4 miles by road from Potter Heigham.

Pubs of Potter Heigham

Potter Heigham is a village on the River Thurne in Norfolk with two pubs – The Falgate Inn and the Broadshaven Tavern. Several pubs have closed, including the much missed Bridge Inn which burned down in 1990.

Falgate Inn

Falgate Inn

By far the oldest of the two remaining pubs, apparently shown in a painting from the 1770s, in 1781 the Norfolk Chronicle records an auction was held at the pub. Faden’s map of 1797 shows the area as ‘Heigham Furlgate’. The building was originally a farmhouse, the name of the inn refers to its use as a toll house.

The pub’s sign was highlighted as early as 1879 (Tourist’s Guide to the County of Norfolk – Walter Rye) when mention was also made of “a splendid hawthorn hedge nearly 25 feet high” which stood ‘nearly opposite’ the pub.

Its signboard is sure to attract the visitor’s attention. It consists of a small gate hanging over the door, upon which is inscribed the following verse:

This gate hang high,
But hinder none;
Refresh and pay,
And travel on.

(Broadland Sport – Everitt, 1902)

Successive refurbishments have removed that sign and any trace of the verse.

Bygone Norfolk (Andrews, 1898) contains the following curious note:

Toshe fromshe

The saying applied to a certain spot near the village inn at Potter Heigham. Now a falgate is a small cross- way green where several roads part, and where there is generally a gate or gates terminating private roads some say the swinging or falling-gate gives the derivation.”

The folk signer Harry Cox lived in the area and was known to frequent the Falgate and the closed Railway Tavern and to have held singing sessions here.

Falgate Potter Heigham

The roof of the pub was thatched until 1993 when it caught fire. Patricia Munday, a former resident whose father Vernon Le Neve Painter was landlord from 1934 to 1954 recalls:

It had a beautiful thatched roof which was renewed once during our time (1934-1954) but which was destroyed in the dreadful fire in 1993. When the housed was rebuilt, the roof was tiled. The wooden frame surrounding the front door was added about 1938 and has a Latin inscription meaning ‘Welcome or rest, traveller’.
(Melton Constable to Yarmouth Beach – Adderson and Kenworthy, 1987)

Mrs Munday has written a history of the pub, which we were kindly shown by current landlady Annette, which records some of her memories during that time.

“One of the regular customers came in on his way home to lunch, leaving his horse standing outside. He met an old friend and his usual one pint went to two or three, at which point the horse decided he had been long enough and came right into the bar to fetch his master! Other customers remarked that it was bad enough having a nagging wife but when a nag starts nagging too that really is bad!”

Annette told us the pub is thought to have been used as a mortuary when it was taken over by wheelwright and carpenter William Shepherd George in 1888 who may have laid coffins out in the pub. It is also supposedly haunted by the ghosts of two former landlords. Charles Downing fell down the stairs and broke his neck when chasing one of the servant girls. The other is said to be Mary Anne Frost who lived here first with her husband John Frost, licensee of the pub in the 1820s and 30s. When he died in 1834, she took over and the following year married Edward Rust who is later listed as the landlord until the mid 1840s. Nothing much else is known about her, but apparently she makes her presence known.

No ghosts were encountered when we visited, it’s a very friendly, welcoming place with beamed walls and a fireplace, well worth a visit. Woodfordes Wherry and Greene King IPA are the choice of ales, the Wherry perhaps the nicest pint of it we had from any pub during a recent visit to Norfolk.

Broadshaven Tavern

Broadshaven Tavern

The buildings appear to be shown on a map of 1938 but may have been a cafe and restaurant until the 1950s when Herbert Woods bought them as the Broadshaven Hotel. It is named after ‘Broads Haven’, the home of Herbert Woods fleet of hire craft that stands opposite the tavern.

Broadshaven interior

It’s a large pub with a main bar, a dining room and a function room. Not much appears to have changed since the early 1990s when I would occasionally and somewhat reluctantly find myself here at ‘Tigers’ disco, except that there doesn’t seem to be much activity here these days, and without the large number of visitors that Potter Heigham used to attract, it can feel empty and in need of life. It had been neglected for a number of years but in 2011 came under new management; when we visited it was friendly and clean, the only real ale, Woodfordes Wherry in good nick. The outside seating area is the real draw here, overlooking the River Thurne and the narrow medieval bridge. On the opposite bank used to stand the Bridge Inn.

Closed Pubs

Bridge Inn

Bridge Inn 1920s

Originally the Waterman’s Arms, it had been pulled down and rebuilt as the Bridge Hotel by 1896 (Fishing in Norfolk Waters – Arthur Rudd, 1896). It stood on the banks of the River Thurne opposite where the Broadshaven pub stands. The Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk (G. Christopher Davies) published in 1882 mentions:

At the bridge is the ‘Waterman’s Arms’ where one or two bedrooms, and a small parlour, all scrupulously clean, are obtainable.

In the mid 20th century, each year when the Regatta was held:

Rhubarb Underwood’s fun fair set up its colourful collection of rides, dodg’ems, cakewalk, coconut shies, boxing booth and other stalls in front of the Bridge hotel… the pubs were open all day, until midnight, and well patronised… wherries berthed in front of the Bridge Hotel.
(Potter Heigham, The Heart of Broadland – Olga Sinclair, 1989)

In the late 80s and early 90s this was my first local, the first pub I felt I was a part of, drank regularly in, bought my first round of drinks in – lager, lager tops, lager and lime – danced in, cycled home drunk from. In the summer, on Friday and Saturday evenings it was busy and lively, groups of people spilling outside next to the river, boats moored here, sometimes a DJ would play in the small extension room. It was a landmark in the Norfolk Broads, captured on many old photographs, postcards and paintings, then it burnt down.

Bridge Inn fire

It was destroyed by a fire in September 1990 and eventually the remains were cleared away. In 1997 the Broads Local Plan stated “The Broads Authority has granted planning permission for a suitable scheme for the reconstruction of the hotel.” but nothing came of it. Apparently problems with insurance, building regulations and investments prevented rebuilding the inn. Twenty years later, this prime site in the heart of the broads remains inaccessible, overgrown, unloved and used as a private car park by the River Thurne Tenants Association who lease the site and were given planning permission by the Broads Authority.

Railway Tavern

Railway Tavern

It existed since at least 1881 when the census lists Charles Chase as ‘innkeeper & grocer’. The railway line through Potter Heigham to Catfield opened in 1880 and closed in 1959.

Old, thatched, originally just a simple beerhouse, the Tavern stood at the corner of Church Road and Station road and despite its name was probably there before the advent of the railway. Beer was kept in a cool flagged room, down several steps, and drawn straight from the barrel. In front of it was a small shop where groceries were sold. It was a popular meeting place for the men, and had a bowling green, surrounded by a hedge of sweetly scented syringa.

One regular customer always gave his horse a pint of beer when he stopped to partake of refreshment for himself. It would seem that they were a well-matched pair, equally addicted to the god Bacchus, for the horse would stop and refuse to move on until he had had his tipple.
(Sinclair, 1989)

It was still a shop and pub in the early 20th century:

In 1935 Alfred Amis’ parents owned a combined shop and pub, the Railway Tavern, at nearby Potter Heigham, where they had a six day licence, being closed on Sundays. They bought all their beer from Bullards and that must have helped Alfred to be accepted as one of that brewery’s landlords.
(Tales of the Old Countrywomen – Brian Martin, 1997)

It was still shown as a public house on a 1982 map but must have closed soon after. It has been since been demolished and replaced by modern housing.

Cringles Country Club

Cringles was built by Herbert Woods for his family in 1936 and later became Cringles Country Club, a 10 bedroom hotel. I visited once or twice in the early 90s and played pool in a room overlooking the gardens, but it was more of a hotel and restaurant than a pub. It closed later in the 1990s and is now a private house, with new houses built on what were the gardens and pond.

Potter Heigham Pubs Map

Once a thriving spot on the broads, the village seems to have suffered as a result of losing the Bridge Inn, followed by a decline in the hire boat industry over the past couple of decades, the loss of several shops and the closure of the school. Still, it’s well worth visiting for the Falgate Inn, one of the most welcoming pubs we’ve visited in Norfolk. Lathams village store, just behind the Broadshaven Tavern, is a good place to pick up a range of bottled beers from Humpty Dumpty brewery.

Poppyland Brewery – Ales Gas n Lager

Poppyland Brewery reached its first anniversary a few days ago, a year of “extraordinary ales using local ingredients”. These have included beers made with hops smoked in an old Cromer Smokehouse, “wild landrace hops gathered from nearby ruins of medieval monasteries”, locally picked flowers and fruit, and barley from nearby Branthill Farm. And they do taste extraordinary.

Poppyland Brewery

The brewery is located in the Norfolk seaside town of Cromer, a short walk from the beach, on the corner of West Street and Cabbell Road opposite the fine red brick and flint Methodist Church. Part of the brewery building was previously Allen’s Garages, the letters on the sign rearranged as ‘Ales, Gas ‘N Lager’.

Poppyland Brewery

When I visited the brewery, Martin was bottling Dr Rudi’s New Zealand Saison, described as either a “massively hopped Belgian saison” or an “IPA brewed with an ascertive Belgian saison yeast”. Neither description would have prepared me for the intense burst of lemony citrus, refreshingly sharp with a growing sourness and bitter, dry finish. It’s a beer that seizes the senses.

On The Edge

It follows the farmhouse-in-a-hop-field theme of the earlier ‘On the Edge’ saisons, one hopped with Bobek, another with Cascade & Hersbrucker Hallertau – the Poppyland saison I’ve enjoyed most, well hopped, citrus and floral, the slight tartness balanced with caramel sweetness, perfect on a sunny day. The Crab Apple Saison offers another twist. It’s been a long time since I bit into a crab apple, but the beer is as mouth puckeringly sour, tart and acidic as I remember them tasting.

Poppyland Brewery

Smoking hops
The first Poppyland beer I tried remains my favourite. It uses not only smoked malts, but hops smoked in a Cromer smokehouse that’s over 150 years old. Each bottle of Smoked Porter has revealed experiments with different smoked hops and variations in the strength of the beer. I found the 5.7% the richest experience, but most recently opened a bottle of 5.4% and was unexpectedly greeted with lively fresh hop aromas in a cloud of oak smoke, piney hop flavours, smoky sap and coal tar, a wonderful beer. The smoke and tar thickens in the stronger Ten Thousand Geese, a beer which seems to have absorbed the salty sea air. The whole range of beers are free of finings, so vegetarian friendly – no crabs were harmed for the Crab Saisons – although in the same way vegan rauchbiers can impart smoked meat flavours, the smoked beers do carry homeopathic proportions of cured fish in flavour and aroma only.

Smokehouse Porter 10k Geese

The Sour Plum Porter also uses smoked hops, though the aroma of smoke, toast and hops again doesn’t quite prepare the senses for the depths of flavour – vinous, stewed dark fruits laced with smoky resin, a creeping sourness, acetic and dry. I savoured each mouthful until I was short of breath.

Sour Plum Porter

Only 36 bottles of Sour Plum Porter were made, so I’m unlikely to try it again, and it’s unlikely any casks of Poppyland beer will turn up at pubs or beer festivals. As I understand it, there are no plans to grow or to make the beers more widely available. These are small batches of beers, each a search for new sensations. They are however available direct from the brewery and a small number of local outlets, and online from Beautiful Beers.

The latest brews include big IPAs, an Imperial Austrian Porter and a Dandelion Saison. Here’s to another year of Poppyland’s extraordinary ales…

Eel’s Foot, Ormesby St Michael

Update: Since writing the article below, the Boathouse (formerly Eeels Foot) reopened on 28th April 2014. As you can see from the owner’s comments, “the old pub as it was will be brought back to its original glory and run as a country family pub with real ales” and “the old pub part of the bar is to be renamed the Eel’s Foot Bar with a repainting of the original pub sign as a feature and a huge feature wall providing photo images of the old pub over the years”. We look forward to visiting soon…

The Eels Foot was a well known waterside pub in the Norfolk Broads but closed in March 2012. An application was then approved “for the renovation of the public house to improve the existing facility”. It is due to reopen in 2014 as The Boathouse, described as a “romantic wedding venue”, it’s unclear if the public house will survive the extensive redevelopment.

The Boathouse


The inn dates back to at least 1854 when John Groom is listed at the ‘beerhouse and pleasure gardens’, but is likely to be older; he is listed in the 1841 Register of Electors’ as having ‘Freehold house and land, near the broad’. His wife Martha became the publican from 1865 when she is listed in the Post Office Directory as ‘beerhouse and gardener.’

Eels Foot inn sign

Sign for the Eels Foot Inn, Ormesby St Michael

© Miss Steel

This photo of the Eels Foot sign is from 2008. I seem to remember an earlier sign showed an Eel wearing a boot, similar to the present inn sign at the Eels Foot in Eastbridge, Suffolk which suggests the name may have come from “Eel’s Boot, a type of woven reed basket used in Eel Fishing”. However, Scandinavian Names in Norfolk (Rye, 1920) says “there is an Eelsfoot on the south side of Nordfjord in Norway”, suggesting the origin of the name may date back to pre-Roman Scandinavian settlement in Norfolk. A beerhouse at Barton Turf, about 15 miles away, was also known as Eels Foot. Hidden Inns of East Anglia (Peter Long, 2005) suggests “the very unusual name comes from the fact that eels used to swim up to here from the sea, and a map of Trinity Broad shows that it resembles the shape of a foot!” – presumably that refers to Ormesby Little Broad, although I can’t see the shape of a foot in any of the Trinity Broads.

Eels Foot, Ormesby

I spent my teenage years living in a nearby village, and for want of something better to do, would find myself here some weekend evenings for the disco held in the function room. It was one of the first pubs I drank in, along with the Bridge Inn at Potter Heigham which is no longer there. I’d no doubt have been drinking whatever lager was served back then, but Hidden Inns mentions “Greene King IPA, Adnams Broadside and Bitter and Bombardier on tap”. When I was last at the disco in the mid 90s, I saw a man with a mullet haircut dance passionately to Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ The whole place felt similarly out of date.

The Eels Foot was looking run down and in need of refurbishment. Fingers crossed that when it reopens, at least part of it will still be a public house, and visitors can continue to enjoy the beer garden overlooking the broad. Brewery History says that it had a ‘Lacon’s falcon wall tile set inside the building’. Hopefully this too will survive the refurbishment.

The pub overlooks Ormesby Little Broad, part of the Trinity Broads that also includes Rollesby and Filby. The nearby Sportman’s Arms also served visitors to these broads that were popular for rowing and fishing.

“The Eel’s Foot (Ormesby), divides with ‘The Sportsman’s Arms’ the honour of entertaining large parties of visitors from Yarmouth, who come for a day’s fishing on Ormesby Broad. The accommodation at both places is homely, but sufficient for ordinary ‘day-trippers’ who require light refreshment rather than a substantial meal.” (Jennings, 1897)

“Boats may be obtained at the Eel’s Foot, and the Sportsman’s Arms, the former having fair staying accommodation” (Davies, 1882)

Sportsman’s Arms

A beeerhouse listed in the 1864 White’s Directory. It closed in the mid-twentieth century and by 1977 the building is shown on a map as Sportsman’s Cottages. It appears to be one large private house now.

Sportsmans Arms

Sun Pictures of the Norfolk Boards – Jennings, Payne (1897)
The Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk – G. Christopher Davies (1882)
Hidden Inns of East Anglia – Peter Long (2005)

White Horse, Neatishead

…and the closed pubs of Neatishead and Barton Turf.

White Horse

White Horse, Neatishead

The White Horse, Barton

An 18th century pub, perhaps earlier than 1744, with two bars, “the public bar on a lower level is virtually unaltered for 80+ years with its red quarry tiled floor… and impressive black-leaded range. The upper room has a hatch-style bar counter and bench seating” (CAMRA Regional Inventory).

White Horse, Neatishead

We enjoyed a Woodfordes Wherry while talking to Ted, a regular who moved here from London when he retired, who raised whisky to his white beard.

Closed pubs:

Eagle Tavern

The Old Eagle, Neatishead

According to Ted, the Eagle Tavern on Irstead Road had closed by 1987. It is now a private house called The Old Eagle.

Barton Angler

Barton Angler, Neatishead

We were sad to find that the Barton Angler Hotel closed in 2005. When we visited several years ago, there were bench seats next to a small hatch-style bar and mounted on the walls were specimens of large fish caught locally. It seems that this popular pub then changed hands and was turned into a fine dining pub – lack of success was enough grounds to change the use back to a private dwelling. Originally Irstead Rectory, only becoming a pub in the late 20th century, it is now called The Old Rectory.

Trowel and Hammer

A pub called the Trowel and Hammer existed nearby, at least as early as 1841 when an area was listed in the census as ‘Trowel and Hammer Common’. By the 1851 census it was known by its present name of ‘Three Hammer Common’.

Barton Turf

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall, Barton Turf

The church at Barton Turf had a display which mentioned the former brewery and beerhouse at the Staithe. It had a license from at least 1846 and was one of the last beerhouses in the area when it closed in 1966.

Sometimes called the ‘Eel’s Foot’ but best known as the ‘Hole in the wall’… as an off-license, beer was obtained through a wicket (opening window) at the rear, and not to be consumed on the premises, which means that many gallons of beer have been drunk on a seat placed along the flint wall, and in the nearby area

Now called Staithe House, originally the building had been three cottages.

John Yaxley’s A Jam Round Barton Turf mentions a ‘hard old country character’ called Dank who lived locally:

Dank of Pennygate had been known to bang on a down pipe at 4:30 in the morning to waken the landlord to get him a gallon of beer. It is said Dank used to wear a clean shirt for a week, then turn it inside out for a second week. He walked the footpaths almost daily, past the Church to Neatishead Street and the White Horse and Eagle Tavern.

Update: The White Horse reopened in May 2014 after closing a couple of times – first at the end of September 2012, then earlier this year for the refurbishment.

Great Yarmouth Pubs – Southtown

Most visitors to Great Yarmouth head to the sea front; Marine Parade and the ‘Golden Mile’ of sandy beaches, two piers and the Pleasure Beach amusement park. Few would have a reason to cross the river at Haven Bridge and head to the terraced streets and warehouses of Southtown.

Great Yarmouth


Lichfield Arms
In the middle of the terraced streets of Southtown stands the Lichfield Arms. Only locals and some students from the nearby college are likely to come across this pub. The gates and railings around the yard aren’t inviting and it was with some trepidation that we entered, but inside it’s a welcoming backstreet pub.

Lichfield Arms

Lichfield Arms

The beers are mostly the usual lagers so we opted for the Greene King IPA

“Flat or smooth?”


When we visited during the Jubilee weekend there were locals of all ages, bunting along the bar and a DJ with an ACME Sound System playing pop classics. Inside it’s one open space with the bar in the main carpeted lounge area, a long lounge seat facing the bar, a wooden floored space to the left side for dancing and darts, and a room to the right leading to the outside yard. No ‘real ale trail’ would lead you here, but the beer was in good nick, a pleasant GK IPA.

Lichfield Arms

Built around 1891 on land owned by the Earl of Lichfield, it was flattened by a bomb during WWII.

“Another time, this was about 7 in the morning, a German fighter bomber sneaked in low over the town and dropped his bomb on Southtown Railway station. But this time because the aircraft was so low, the bomb did not have the chance to turn vertical and hit the concrete at an angle, causing it to ricochet up, flying over our row of houses, coming down on the Lichfield Arms pub, about 200 yards from us, and flattened that, killing the landlord and his wife.”

Closed pubs

Anson Arms (closed 2010)

The Anson Arms, amongst the timber yards and dry docks along the river Yare opposite South Quay, was established in 1814 according to and originally stood at 243 Southtown Road. In 1958 the license moved across the road to number 73. That closed in May 2010 and is now a curtain and bedding shop. The two former pubs stand opposite each other.

The Anson Arms Great Yarmouth

Anson Arms could refer to the Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Anson, or his younger brother George Anson who served under Wellington at Waterloo and was an MP for Great Yarmouth between 1818-1835. Great Yarmouth History quotes Charles Palmer’s Perlustration of Great Yarmouth (1872):

Further south is a public house called the Anson Arms, built in 1814 by Samuel Paget, Esq., under a lease then granted by the Hon. Mary Anson, widow of… George Adams Anson and daughter of the first Lord Vernon

Further along Southtown Road, the last pub before reaching Gorleston is the Rumbold Arms, an early 19th century pub named after Charles Rumbold, an MP for Great Yarmouth three times between 1818-1857.