Last Orders!

The Beers and Brewing exhibition closes on Sunday 28th October. It’s been a great year exploring pubs and brewing in Norfolk both in the past and today. We hope that you’ve enjoyed visiting the exhibition and reading the blog.

2018 Gressenhall Passholder low (92 of 279)

We’ve loved seeing photos of your children propping up the bar!

For the last month the exhibition has been boosted by the Collaborate programme. Lots of local people have been inspired by the collections and themes of the exhibition. This has breathed new life into the exhibition and has been a really lovely way to round off the season.


All year we have been asking our visitors to think about pubs today. We’ve had lots of answers to the questions: Are you a regular at your local? How often do you go to the pub? Why are pubs closing down? Is it because of the smoking ban? Have we got less money to spend? Are we choosing to spend our free time differently? Is it because we can buy cheap booze at the supermarket?

Too long working hours, less chance. Knowing locals.

Where are all the folks who said ‘we don’t go in pubs because of the smell of smoke’ so they stopped the smell but nobody came in!’

As a former publican I reckon pubs are shutting down in rural areas mostly because of drink driving and secondly cheap supermarket booze.

My husband died of alcoholism in 2011. He was just 51. Alcohol is too easily available nowadays!

Costs of running a pub are too high.

Children weren’t allowed in pubs when I was young so we were sat outside with a bottle of pop!

Once a week on a Tuesday. Thank God for the smoking ban, means you can see the dart board.

If they don’t serve food most pubs will close.

A minimum price per unit in supermarkets would help.

I love a pub lunch.

I don’t go to a pub. I only go when it’s something special.

Watch this space for news of next year’s exhibition: Once Upon A Time!


John Moray-Smith panel

Have you ever walked in to a pub and seen a scene like this? This panel portrays a traditional pub scene unlike we see now. It was created by the Norwich artist, John Moray-Smith in the middle of the twentieth century. This artist’s work appears on the outside of buildings and inside of pubs across Norwich and Norfolk. His work commemorates and celebrates trades and livelihoods from across the city and county.

Little is known about Moray-Smith’s life. Mysterious rumours circulated for years that he was an Italian gypsy who first came to England during the First World War as a Prisoner of War. Known for being eccentric, perhaps this story made sense, however thanks to research by the Norwich Society we now know that this is complete fabrication. Moray-Smith was born in Scotland and later lived in London where he met his wife. The family moved to Norwich in the early 1930s.

Moray-Smith was employed by Norwich brewery Morgan & Co. For twenty years he produced work to decorate the brewery’s pub. Morgan’s brewery was a large brewery based in Norwich and King’s Lynn and owned pubs all over the county. John and Walter Morgan bought Conisford Brewery from Charles and Henry Thompson in 1844. The company took over many other breweries and by 1904 they owned 600 pubs with 80% of them outside of Norwich. In 1961 the company went into liquidation and were taken over by Bullards and Steward and Patteson. Many other breweries suffered the same fate. Big breweries consolidated, lager which was brewed overseas became very popular and brewing in the county rapidly declined. Thankfully, there has been a resurgence of micro-breweries and Norfolk is once again a brewing county.

One of Morgan’s pubs was the Jolly Farmers in King’s Lynn. This panel is one of six which was on display in the pub. They were unveiled on the 25th February 1948 by Sir Robert Bignold, the managing director of the Brewery. Through Moray-Smith’s panels Morgan’s brewery created a theme for this pub and rather appropriately it was farming! The panels in the set portray threshing, harvesting, sheep shearing, a cattle market, a farmyard and this pub scene. In this pub scene we see musical instruments being played, beer drunk from mugs and a dog under the table. The only woman in the scene is behind the bar. The Jolly Farmers pub is now closed like many rural pubs which are closing or are at threat of closure. Now pubs in the county are being saved and run by their communities, hosting knit and knatter groups, running theatre performances and expanding their daytime offer to include coffee and cake.

Originally the panel would have been painted with bright colours, matching the happy scene it portrays. It is darker now and stained brown with tobacco from the many years it was in a smoky pub. Moray-Smith made his panels from wire and plaster. Despite their size and chunky finish these panels are delicate and expensive to conserve. It is wonderful to be able to display one of them within the ‘Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs’.

A version of this blog post appeared in the Eastern Daily Press.

Brewing in Norfolk

The Beers and Brewing exhibition explores pubs and brewing in the past and today. We’ve already written blog posts about the historic Steward and Patteson brewery and the modern Kings Arms Pub. This post is about the two modern breweries in the exhibition.

Beeston Brewery

Mark Riches started brewing at Beeston Brewery in November 2006. Today he runs three brews every week. He produces nine different beers that he supplies to pubs. He also bottle beers for selling in local shops and from the brewery direct to customers.

Norfolk Brewhouse

The Norfolk Brewhouse is an award-winning brewery based in North Norfolk run by Rachel and David Holliday since 2012. The brewery’s most well known beers are all named after Norfolk Dialect words for the hare – Moon Gazer, Dew Hopper and Stubble Stag. They also make a gluten free beer, lagers a charity ale Tobi’s Tipple which supports local cancer charity It’s On The Ball.

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Both breweries use brewing water from their own wells. They also use local malting barley supplied by the Crisp Malting Group based in North Norfolk. Thankyou to both breweries for lending items to the Beers and Brewing exhibition.



Contemporary Community pubs

This ‘Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs’ exhibition at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse explores the brewing industry and pubs in the county both in the past and today. I was very keen that this exhibition reflected the contemporary nature of pubs and brewing in Norfolk.

I was very pleased to connect with the manager at The Kings Arms pub in Shouldham. This was the first community run pub in West Norfolk. Like many pubs (28,000 pubs have closed since the 1970s) it was closed in 2012. The villagers rallied around to save it and set up a not for profit cooperative Shouldham Community Enterprises Limited. A huge fundraising campaign was successfully achieved with the community buying their pub in January 2014. The pub has now been open since September 2014 and expanded its community role. The pub is host to a Knit and Knatter group, Spanish classes and a volunteer run café. The pub has its own cricket and football team. The Kings Arms has been awarded CAMRA West Norfolk pub of the year in 2016, 2017 and 2018!

I was delighted that they chose to donate items to the museum collection which are on display in the exhibition.

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Picture Norfolk

The Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs exhibition features some wonderful photographs sourced from Picture Norfolk.

Picture Norfolk is a wonderful online database created and run by Norfolk Library & Information Service. Picture Norfolk is features over 20,000 local photographs and includes images from Local Studies Libraries, Norfolk Museums Service, Norfolk Record Office and many private collections.

Bullard’s Anchor Brewery on Westwick Street in Norwich. Photograph from an album held by the Museum of Norwich and image supplied by Picture Norfolk.

Search and see what you can find!

Steward and Patteson

Norfolk was home to hundreds of brewers. Many of them are featured in the ‘Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs exhibition.’ One of the biggest brewers in Norfolk was Steward and Patteson. Items from the brewery are on display in the exhibition.

In 1793 John Patteson bought the Pockthorpe brewery. In just 40 years the company had bought three more breweries and owned 120 pubs. The company had many name changes and expanded rapidly. In 1895 they owned 498 pubs. In 1961 Steward and Patteson bought half of Morgan’s Brewery adding 200 pubs to their already 1250.

The brewery had their own Cooper’s shop making casks and barrels. These tools are on loan to us from The Museum of Norwich and are on display in the exhibition.

The fantastic book ‘Norwich Pubs and Breweries Past and Present’ by Frances and Michael Holmes (which was invaluable when researching for this exhibition) features memories of working for Steward and Patteson at the Pockthorpe Brewery.

Barry Berwick was a cooper:

“In 1958 I was taken on at Steward and Patteson as an apprentice cooper. I was 15 when I started… My job mainly consisted of repairing barrels. I used to take out broken staves, which are the narrow strips of wood forming part of the sides of a barrel, and put in new ones. It was all done by eye, there were no measurements… When the barrels were returned to the brewery for refilling they were washed. A bloke used to smell them to make sure they were clean. He often found bits of wood inside that he’d take out. He put a big cross on the side of damaged barrels which came over to us in the coopers’ shop.”

After a century of rapid expansion and dominating the Norwich brewery and pub scene, a takeover by Watney Mann meant that the brewery closed in 1970.

“When I joined there were four coopers but it was only about three years later we got the ‘Coopers Journal and saw an article about the London breweries using kegs. We all knew then that the writing was on the wall, although I worked as a cooper until 1970 when the last brew was made at Pockthorpe.”

Matchbox collection

All of these beermats were collected by Richard Brownlow. During the 1950s to 70s his parents ran the Papermakers Arms in Swanton Morley.

They were used to advertise pubs. It’s interesting to look at them now and see all the different pub names! Many of them include the names of the landlord and landlady.

They were also used to advertise other businesses.

And breweries!



Beermat collection

All of these beermats were collected by Richard Brownlow. During the 1950s to 70s his parents ran the Papermakers Arms in Swanton Morley.

Beermats weren’t just for putting your glass on! They were an important way of advertising different breweries, drinks, local businesses, snacks and cigarettes.

Have you ever seen a mat shaped like a packet of crisps? Or a lightbulb or bottle cap?

There is even a set of mats shaped as puzzle pieces.

There are lots more beermats on display in the Beers and Brewing : Norfolk’s Rural Pubs exhibition.



The perfect combination of sandy soil and salty air means that North Norfolk has the perfect conditions for growing barley. This barley is made into malt for brewing beer, through a process called malting. Norfolk was home to hundreds of maltings and brewers.

These two items are on display in the exhibition Beers and Brewing, on loan from the Museum of Norwich.

Malt barrow. It is missing the front wheel. From the former Stag Maltings, St. Benedict’s Street, Norwich, which were demolished in March 1971. NWHCM : 1971.185.4


Watering can used for dampening the malt during fermentation. From the former Stag Maltings, St. Benedict’s Street, Norwich, which were demolished in March 1971. NWHCM : 1971.185.6

The process of malting took place in maltings or malthouses across the county. Traditionally, malt is germinated on the floor. This involves different cycles of wet, dry and heat to produce malt from the barley. Here are some photos from the museum collection which show this work.

Photograph of workers with malt ploughs at Great Ryburgh Maltings. GRSRM : CP.CP3079


Photograph of Edgar Hoggett with a malt plough at maltings in Narborough. GRSRM : 2012.32


Photograph of workers with malt shovels and forks at Wainford Maltings. GRSRM : CP.CP1471