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King’s Lynn pub walks, West Norfolk CAMRA and True’s Yard Museum: Bar Man

Weekly Bar Man pub column by Jeff Hoyle...

I was persuaded to lead another historic pub walk on behalf of West Norfolk CAMRA and True’s Yard Museum recently. It is pretty easy to spot former pubs or the site of them as you walk around town.

Indeed, I remember writing a column a few years ago about Norfolk Street and came up with about 19 pubs that once existed along this thoroughfare at one time or another. However, interesting as the buildings are, a few tales about them can help bring the past to life.

Bar. Jeff Hoyle
Bar. Jeff Hoyle

Much of my information comes from the excellent Norfolk Pubs website which lists all the pubs that are or have existed in the county, As well as the names of the landlords, the breweries that supplied the pubs and, in many cases, pictures, the site contains anecdotes about many of them.

Clearly some of these have been sourced from contemporary newspapers and it is to the court reports that much of the information has been gleaned. What struck me was the number of landlords that were convicted at one time or another of serving out of legal hours, and also the different reaction by the authorities to these transgressions. Compare these two incidents.

The first concerns The Flowerpot, which stood on the corner of Norfolk Street and Chapel Street. In 1910, the landlord was George Johnson who had been in the pub for three years without incident. The pub had rooms, and he put up a party of travellers who were on their way from Grimsby to Yarmouth races.

One of the group wanted to be out late, so Johnson arranged for his private door to be left unlocked to allow him late access. A passing constable, PC Wilmore noticed lights on inside the pub after hours, so he entered the building through the unlocked door to enquire why this was and to warn the landlord.

As he left, he was observed by a police sergeant who reported him for being on licenced premises contrary to the Licencing Act of 1872. It seems that PC Wilmore’s record previously had not been unblemished and he was fined £5 by the Watch Committee and had his good conduct stripes removed.

The Chief Constable opposed Johnson from gaining a licence at another House, but this was not upheld by the bench and he transferred to the Kings Head, near Saturday Market Place.

Compare this incident with one at the Fisherman’s Arms on Pilot Street in 1870. The landlord was George Bishop and he appeared before magistrates accused of keeping his house open at illegal hours. As he entered the court, he ‘bowed very familiarly to one or two members of the bench’.

The offence was reported to have taken place on June 24, which was Gaywood Fair night. Bishop did not deny being open, but said that the event was a tea party for 20 women who had been joined by a further 20.

The Honourable Robert Bourke, a Lynn MP had given tea for 80 fisherwomen who were distributed between local public houses. The Superintendent of Police said that if it had been a simple tea party, it would not have lasted from six in the evening until two in the morning.

He stated that Police Sergeant Page had found six men and 26 women in the House with several pewter measures of beer in view and that Bishop was very drunk.

The magistrate’s decision was that Bishop should only pay for the expenses of the hearing with no other penalty. You have been presented with the facts, now read between the lines.

Bar Man

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