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New pub to open in Downham Market next month after £2.4m redevelopment




Interior of The Whalebone Wetherspoons in Downham Market. Picture supplied.
Interior of The Whalebone Wetherspoons in Downham Market. Picture supplied.

A new pub-restaurant is set to open in Downham next month after a £2.4 million redevelopment of the site.

The former White Hart premises on Bridge Street is due to open for business on Tuesday, March 20 under the new name the Whalebone, now owned by pub retailer J D Wetherspoon.

An artist's impression of the courtyard at The Whalebone Wetherspoons in Downham Market. Picture supplied.
An artist's impression of the courtyard at The Whalebone Wetherspoons in Downham Market. Picture supplied.

Eddie Gershon, spokesman for the company, said the Whalebone will be managed by David Riggs and will employ 60 staff.

Mr Gershon said: “Wetherspoon has spent almost £2.4 million redeveloping the site.

“We believe the pub will be a great asset to the town and also act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the area.

“We are looking forward to opening the pub and believe it will appeal to a wide range of people.”

The pub’s new name – the Whalebone – is a reference to the name of an inn on Bridge Street in the 1700s.

Before the pub’s new name was decided, a report was made to Wetherspoon which recommended a series of names, including the Whalebone.

The report said that sale particulars stated the premises had been “occupied as such with full trade upwards of sixty years” in 1748, and during these years, the inn was called the Whalebone.

“At that time, nearby King’s Lynn was a flourishing whaling port, with ships fishing the waters around Greenland,” the report adds.

“Lynn’s famous Greenland Fishery PH was frequented by ‘whalers’. Perhaps, this is how the Whalebone got its name or possibly from a whalebone brought back as a souvenir.”

In February 1808, the report adds that the “now long-gone towermill” in Bridge Street was put up for auction at the house of Mr Isaac Bell, which was known by the sign of the White Hart.

“In July, the White Hart was ‘offered for sale’ – Isaac Bell had ‘been at the premises for 17 years’ and wanted to retire,” the report adds.

“The pub had a ‘brew-house, hay-loft, dove house, stabling for 12 horses, outbuildings and a well-planted garden.”

The White Hart had been owned by Oak Taverns until 2015, when rumours first surfaced that Wetherspoon was interested in taking over ownership of the pub.

According to the report, the White Hart is a “long-standing feature of Bridge Street”.

It goes on to say that it is “a centuries-old thoroughfare that leads up the hill on which Downham Market developed into a town.

“The grade II listed property is actually two buildings, said to have been combined in the 1980s.

“The taller of the two, on the left-hand side, is early 18th century, and was originally a private residence.

“The adjoining building is said to be mid-19th century with ‘an earlier core’ and was the original public house.”



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