They have been part of Norwich's heritage since before the second world war, but developers wanted them removed as part of a modernisation.

The five plaster reliefs by Norwich-based artist John Moray-Smith have been in situ behind the bar at the Woolpack in the city centre since it opened in 1938.

But, as part of a �200,000 makeover due to start next month, developers wanted to remove the reliefs and not put them up again.

Staff at the Golden Ball Street pub and the city's heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society, however, protested and the reliefs, which celebrate Norwich's medieval wool trade, have been saved for the city.

Maureen Redshaw, who has worked at the Woolpack for 25 years, and is known affectionately as the pub's 'Queen', said: 'The reliefs have been at the pub all the time I've been here and it's part of our heritage. No way was I going to allow the developers to remove them and then not put them up again.'

Mary Ash, acting chairman of the Norwich Society, said the series of five panels that make up the reliefs were unique.

Full of colourful detail, they depict sheep farming, sheep sheering, a sheep market, ships at a busy quayside, and other aspects of the wool trade such as dyeing and selling.

She said: 'The pub is to be refurbished and the plan was to remove the Moray-Smith reliefs behind the bar, and then not put them back up again.

'But we were very keen to preserve them as part of Norwich's heritage, and the landlords and staff at the pub did not want to lose them either.

'And, thankfully, we have agreed a satisfactory compromise. The reliefs will stay at the pub but will be moved to a new dining area, when the pub has been refurbished.

'The panels will still be displayed in the correct order, as per the chronology of the wool trade, and we have ben told they will all fit in to the new space.'

She said that the watchdog would ensure that no damage was caused to the reliefs when they were taken down, and it would keep a watch on the process.

The Woolpack will call last orders on Monday, April 23 as it undergoes a �200,000 makeover, creating 10 new jobs.

The pub, which reopens on Saturday, May 5, is transforming into a John Barras pub, a brand from Spirit Pub Company.

It will be fitted with new HD TVs, new furniture and a new fitted bar. Along with retaining the pub's original fixtures and fittings, the original Woolpack sign will be repaired and reinstated after being knocked down many years ago.

John Cooke, general manager of the Woolpack, said: 'I know how much the community values the pub's iconic mural/reliefs and by moving it to a more prominent position within the pub we are ensuring that John Moray-Smith's work will continue to be appreciated.'

Mr Moray-Smith is also responsible for the mural of St Stephen's Gate in St Stephen's Road and on the wall of the Prince of Denmark pub, both in Norwich, among other works of art.

The pub is recruiting for part-time positions on the bar and in the kitchen. Anyone interested should contact the pub on

Have you saved part of Norwich's heritage? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email