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City street that hosted Norwich’s most raucous pubs

PUBLISHED: 10:18 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:19 13 December 2017

Norwich -- Pubs

The Keel and Wherry stood at 214 King Street pictured just before it was demolished for redevelopment

Dated -- 28 January 1964

Photograph C1903

Norwich -- Pubs The Keel and Wherry stood at 214 King Street pictured just before it was demolished for redevelopment Dated -- 28 January 1964 Photograph C1903

Pubs are given some weird and wonderful names nowadays but there is one which has just opened in Norwich which is spot on - it really is the Last Pub Standing in a street which once boasted around 60 public houses and a number of breweries.

Norwich -- Pubs

The Ferry Inn, King Street, which had just been sold 
for £32,000

Dated -- 15 August 1975

Photograph C1840       FolkesNorwich -- Pubs The Ferry Inn, King Street, which had just been sold for £32,000 Dated -- 15 August 1975 Photograph C1840 Folkes

This is King Street, one of the longest and oldest thoroughfares in the city, which more than 1,500 years ago as a footpath between a cliff and a river, leading to the Anglo-Saxon settlements which are thought to have been the beginning of Norwich.

The story of King Street is a rich one. And what a community it was.

Thanks to the River Wensum it took centre stage in the story of how Norwich came to be.

Once lined with the mansions and the warehouses of the merchants. They built homes by the river and some founded chapels which became parish churches as the population increased.

Norwich -- Pubs

The Nags Head, King Street

Dated -- 25 August 1993

Photograph C1912Norwich -- Pubs The Nags Head, King Street Dated -- 25 August 1993 Photograph C1912

By the 14th century King Street had ten churches, a Benedictine Cathedral priory at its northern end and Benedictine nuns at Carrow.

As trade grew, more people arrived to live in the courts and yards and then there were the sailors.

They wanted a drink, and it was beer which played a major role in the development of King Street which had a riotous reputation. There were breweries, factories, warehouses and shops.

As the “village on the hill” between King Street and Ber Street developed into a thriving and large community, more people moved in, and more pubs opened.

Norwich -- Pubs

The Old Barge in King Street

Dated No Date

Photograph C1967Norwich -- Pubs The Old Barge in King Street Dated No Date Photograph C1967

A couple of hundred years ago there were around 27 breweries in Norwich and about 558 public houses.

By the end of the 19th century there were the big four and two of them were in King Street. Morgans and Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs.

John Youngs has set up his Crown Brewery in around 1807 and it flourished over the years.

In 1865 it expanded, buying the adjacent Music House. It was bought by Bullards in 1958 and closed.

Norwich -- Pubs

The Ship Inn, 168 King Street

Dated No Date

Photograph C2033Norwich -- Pubs The Ship Inn, 168 King Street Dated No Date Photograph C2033

A few years later Norfolk Education Committee bought the brewery site and it became home to the Wensum Lodge Adult Education Centre.

The Conisford Brewery, later the Old Brewery, was established on King Street as early as 1565 by John Barnard.

The Thompson family took it over and in the 1840s sold it, along with 54 public houses to brothers John and Walter Morgan.

Morgans expanded over the decades. It was bombed in the war, back in business by 1950, but then were taken over by Bullards and Steward & Patteson before it was sold to Watney Mann.

By 1970 the Old Brewery was the only one. It closed in 1985 with the loss of around 160 jobs - the public houses up and down King Street also closed over the years.

The once much-loved Ferry Boat now stands empty and boarded up, waiting for the builders to move in.

King Street has been a victim of savage civic vandalism over the years but it is fighting back as people are moving back to live in the new developments.

And the last pub really is still standing - it deserves our support.

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