Pub of the Week: The Short Blue in Gorleston
16:46 16 May 2014
Archant Norfolk © 2014
Decades of seaside history mix with a traditional pub atmosphere at one of Gorleston’s most unique drinking establishments.
Centuries-old fishing fleet lends its name to popular inn
The Short Blue started life as a traditional fisherman’s cottage and dates back to 1693.
Sitting on Gorleston’s High Street it is close to Ice House Hill, so named after the historic ice house that sat on the quay and provided chilled supplies to fishermen so they could keep their catch fresh.
The pub’s distinctive interior has remained intact over the years and features reclaimed timbers and stained glass – both in the windows and behind the bar – and a carved wooden bar.
Its sign, hanging outside, reflects its unique name – taken from the historic fishing fleet that would set sail from Gorleston. The Short Blue fishing fleet, named after the flag on each boat, was managed by Victorian businessman Harry Harvey-George.
In its time the fleet employed 570 fishermen and more than 100 more on the ground comprising of blacksmiths, engineers, and sailmakers.
The Short Blue sits on the town’s High Street, overlooking the river, and takes its name from the historic fishing fleet that sailed from Gorleston’s harbour in the 1800s.
And while the trawlers have long since gone, the pub remains – and at its helm is long-standing landlord Kevin Duffield.
He has been serving pints from the inn’s intricately carved wooden bar for 27 years. But his career as a publican was one he fell into after training to be a carpenter.
The 50-year-old, who was born and bred in the town, said: “I did an apprenticeship [in carpentry] and started bar work as soon as I turned 18 to help with my income. Gradually I ended up running the Oakwood in Great Yarmouth and then I came here in 1987.
“I managed it for 20 years and then I took the lease on in 2007. I never expected to be here so long.
“But 27 years later I’m still here.”
His training as a carpenter has come in handy occasionally over the years, but Mr Duffield said he enjoyed the social side of being a landlord and serving his many regular customers.
And visitors enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of the historic freehouse and say they are made to feel part of the staff “family” of Mr Duffield and his five-strong working team.
Lined with timber beams, intricate carvings and coloured stained glass windows, Mr Duffield said he liked maintaining the pub’s traditional, cosy feel.
“It’s more of a conversationalist pub. We haven’t got a juke box, pool table or dartboard. It’s very social, which is really nice,” he added.
Alongside real ales and lagers, the Short Blue also serves up home cooked, locally sourced, food seven days a week – including a popular Sunday roast.
It also dishes up entertainment through weekly quiz nights and monthly soul evenings, featuring music from local DJ Matt Welton.
And after nearly 30 years of service, Mr Duffield has no plans to leave his position.
He said: “It will be nice to just carry on and keep up the tradition.”