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Barman by Jeff Hoyle

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It is a quiet Tuesday afternoon and I am sat in the research room at True’s Yard feeling satisfied after finishing my piece for the next edition of the Lynn News.

Wondering what to do next, my eye alights on a reprint of the 1960 Street Directory by Bob Booth. Perhaps I am attracted by the cover which features a picture of Saturday Market Place with the White Hart Stores dominating the scene.

Painted white in those days with the name picked out in dark letters, the pub sign is a three-dimensional carving of a deer enclosed by a frame. Intrigued, I flick through to find the listing of pubs trading in the town in those far off times.

White Hart pub, King's Lynn (56577023)
White Hart pub, King's Lynn (56577023)

The index has 78 pubs and another 12 hotels. By my reckoning 12 of the pubs are still operating alongside four of the hotels.

Some have changed their names. The White Hart Stores is now just the White Hart. The New Inn has recently been christened the Orb and Sceptre and the Greyfriars Tavern has long been the Fenman. Some are clinging on to life as pubs, but face an uncertain future, with the Sportsman/Winch at West Winch, and the Woolpack/Euro Disco Bar on Tennyson Avenue.

Alan and Sam Brookes, landlord and landlady of the Orb & Sceptre in South Wootton. (56576992)
Alan and Sam Brookes, landlord and landlady of the Orb & Sceptre in South Wootton. (56576992)

There are some pubs that have opened since the publication of the Directory. The Stuart House Hotel, once the home of Alfred Dodman was still the Brandon Stuart Nursing Home. The Wildfowler, out towards the hospital was what? A farmhouse? The Nip and Growler is a mere five years or so old. Others have come and gone.

The Fairstead, The Admiral’s Tap and the Hogshead amongst them. Some are now repurposed, but could anyone doubt that the building at the end of Portland Street, near the railway station was once a pub? If you do, then the photograph of the Railway Arms in the directory, which closed in 1967 will confirm it. Other pubs have vanished almost completely with only the merest traces of their presence to provide a clue that they ever existed.

As you cross the road where the one-way system meets the end of Littleport Street, you may spot Edinburgh Court, once the location of the Duke of Edinburgh pub, but now a residential development. Downstairs from where I am writing there is a pub sign reminding us that this building housed the Naval Reserve with a page of history which I wrote many years ago still with an uncorrected spelling mistake.

Walk from Tuesday Market Place down King Street and glance up at the back of what is now Prezzo, once The Woolpack. There you may spot a nice wrought iron grille with the letters S and P, presumably the brewery company Steward and Pattesons. As well as buildings, some of the landlords listed still evoke memories. In 1960 Harry and Rene Lusher were running the Captain Vancouver on Oak Circle, but by 1980 when I arrived in town, they were at the Woolpack on Tennyson Avenue. I think their son followed them as landlord before moving to Wisbech to take on the Red Lion.

In 1960, Lynn was still a brewing town. Morgan’s Lady Bridge Brewery was on Stonegate Street, where the Hillington Square development now stands. Originally the Elijah Eyre Lady Bridge Brewery, it was purchased by Morgan’s in 1900, though it continued under its original name for some years. Steward and Pattesons bought Bagge’s Brewery in 1929 and were still operating on King Street, where the old offices still remain. Look for the brass plaque on the wall. There is plenty of history in Lynn, not all of it medieval.

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