Pub of the week: Tradition runs deep in Cromer’s Albion under the watchful eye of landlady Jane Chapman
09:52 06 September 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Tradition runs deep in this Cromer town centre pub, which has become the latest venture for its landlady.
Jane Chapman, who grew up in Leverington near Wisbech, took over the Church Street ale house in February 19 last year.
Dealing with customers and the talking to members of the public has come naturally to her because her late mother Phylis Elam ran Elam Stores in Leverington.
Ms Chapman grew up above the stores and ran it for three years.
She has had a range of jobs including being a hairdresser, running the former Bowling Green pub in Lynn Road, Wisbech, and managing a dry cleaners.
Before arriving at The Albion she was a manager for two years at the Bakehouse coffee shop in Hunstanton and then cooked at the Coffee House Café in Sheringham.
She said: “I was looking for somewhere to take on and I could tell The Albion would be a challenge. You could see if somebody gave it some tender loving care it would come back to life, which it has done wonderfully.”
As soon as she took charge, Ms Chapman put in a kitchen as no food had been served at the business before that time.
“We do good hearty pub grub. It is a very traditional pub with traditional values. We are a pub with food, not a place that serves food with a pub,” she added.
The Albion, previously known as the Albion Hotel, could have been run as a beer house in 1839 by Sherman Bayfield. Records suggest it was owned by builder Francis Pank and the building dates back to the early 19th century.
By the 1860s Mary Brooks, who ran a better known beer house in nearby Brook Street, had taken on the Albion Hotel.
Mary Pugh took over the business in 1875, followed by Edward Pugh during the 1880s.
In November 1894 the licence for the Albion Hotel was transferred from Mr Pugh to John Sillwood, who owned a successful plastering firm and owned at least one other hotel in Norfolk.
In the 1850s and 1860s the wife of hotel resident farmer Stephen Fitt ran a milliner’s shop from their room, according to Savin’s History of Cromer.
The Albion takes advantage of its coastal position and serves Cromer crabs and local meat from popular butcher Icarus Hines, who has a store in the town.
As well as introducing food seven days a week, Ms Chapman, who lives above the pub, has fully refurbished the outside and is in the process of updating the inside.
Regular entertainment is also put on at the pub, which has two darts teams – one for men and women – and two pool teams. The Albion is dog and family friendly and constantly changes its ales.
Ms Chapman said: “I want to build up trade up. There is a complete mix of customers. The oldest is 83 and we also hold children’s birthday parties. It is lovely here and the customers are friendly. I like the atmosphere. I have always thought that being a landlady is something you are born to do. It is not something you can learn.”