When Bullards brewery was a symbol of city’s thriving industry

Bullard & Sons. Photo: Archant Archive

Bullard & Sons. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant

It was 35 years ago when a symbol of Norwich's proud industrial heritage came tumbling to the ground...the landmark chimney at Bullards Anchor Brewery was destroyed.

Brewery workers at the Bullards Anchor Brewery in Westwick Street, Norwich - 1st July, 1960. Photo:

Brewery workers at the Bullards Anchor Brewery in Westwick Street, Norwich - 1st July, 1960. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant

Back in 1982 we wrote: 'The slow and steady withdrawal from the Norwich skyline of that well known industrial exclamation mark, contains certain tenuous parallels with past disputes over the costly retention of fragmentary remains of the old city wall.

'Bullards chimney, which is being dismantled brick by brick prior to the £2m redevelopment of the site, is of undoubted emotional and architectural interest. Its demolition was approved with 'hesitation and some regret.''

It was described in a report to Norwich City Council as being 'the best surviving example of an industrial chimney in Norwich' but it didn't save it.

Today there is a panel in a wall which was rescued from the fine chimney with an anchor which says: 'Bullard and Sons Brewery, 1868.'

Bullards Brewery. Photo: Archant Archive

Bullards Brewery. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant


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The story of legendary brewery starts back in 1837 when Richard Bullard and James Watts founded the Anchor Brewery near St Miles Bridge in the city. The partnership only lasted ten years but Richard carried on running and expanding the business. In 1886 a new brewery was build on the same site next to the River Wensum.

Slowly but surely the Coslany Street site grew bigger and bigger. His son Harry (he became Sir Harry) and was one of the best known men in Norwich and Norfolk, took over with his brothers Charley and Fred.

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When floods hit the city Sir Harry was the mayor and took over the relief fund helping desperate and poor people. This beer baron had a heart of gold.

In the 1890s Bullards was a big operation employing many people and running well over 400 public houses.

A brewery dray lorry rescued from the scrape heap is pictured at the Mann Egerton Leyland Trick Cent

A brewery dray lorry rescued from the scrape heap is pictured at the Mann Egerton Leyland Trick Centre, Cromer Road in Norwich, this 1949 AEC Monarch has been repaired for a rally. Derek Hickman (left), managing director of the centre and Ken Hallett, who was to take part in the rally and aboard the vehicle are the mechanics, apprentices and an electrician who restored the Bullard & Sons dray, April, 1977. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant

A large well was dug under the brewery pumping thousands of gallons of water giving the beer a unique flavour and the cellars were big enough to house 6,000 barrels.

Sir Harry died in 1903 and other family members took over and a century ago had 133 tied houses in Norwich, more than its nearest rival, Steward & Patteson.

In the 1950s the brewery was extended and Bullards bought Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs brewery in King Street.

But times were changing – the days of the Norwich beer barons, who once employed thousands of men and women, at breweries across the city were coming to an end.

Bullard and Sons, Anchor Brewery - 1984. Photo: Archant Archive

Bullard and Sons, Anchor Brewery - 1984. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant

In the 60s John Morse of S&P and Gerald Bullard got together to buy Morgans. 'We were largely interested in the properties,' said Gerald.

'There were about 400 of them, mainly in Norfolk and Norwich, and they were shared out one morning between us. We cut cards to see who should have first pick,' he said.

The men then decided to sell Morgan's to Watney Mann...giving them a foothold in Norfolk which they grabbed. They took over Bullards and in 1966 it was announced that brewing would be coming to an end at Anchor Brewery.

In the 1970s the site was left to decay before it was redeveloped. While the chimney went, at least the building was saved and today Anchor Quay is a fine place to live.

Going, going, gone...the landmark Bullards chimney comes down 35 years ago. Photo: Frances and Micha

Going, going, gone...the landmark Bullards chimney comes down 35 years ago. Photo: Frances and Michael Holmes. - Credit: Frances and Michael Holmes.

In more recent times former Bullards man Russell Evans teamed up with Redwell Brewery to produce Bullards beer again...let's drink to that.

Cheers Bullards...shame about the chimney.

Bullards Brewery workers. Photo: Archant Archive

Bullards Brewery workers. Photo: Archant Archive - Credit: Archant

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