New gin and coffee bar in historic Norwich building given the go-ahead

Crystal House. Pic; Archant

Crystal House. Pic; Archant - Credit: Archant

A new gin bar, cafe and wedding venue in Norwich’s ‘Crystal Palace’ has been given the green light.

Bullards boss Russell Evans was hoping to put a seafood restaurant in his distillery at Crystal House, in Cattle Market Street, but has since revised plans after Jarrold opened one at their city centre store.

But now Mr Evans has got planning permission for a major new project which will see huge letters saying ‘The Spirit of Norwich’ atop the building and two floors converted for several different uses including gin tours and tastings.

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Crystal House when it was a workshop and foundry for Holmes & Son in Victorian times

Crystal House when it was a workshop and foundry for Holmes & Son in Victorian times - Credit: Archant

Crystal House is a listed building, originally built in 1862 as a showroom, workshop and foundry for Holmes and Sons, which manufactured and assembled agricultural machinery.

It later became a model shop and more recently was the base of Warings coffee shop. The building’s striking feature are the huge, iron-framed windows and glass facade – it is believed it takes its name from Crystal Palace in London which alledgedly inspired its architecture.


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The top floor, boasting those huge original windows, will be made into a space people can hire. On the mezzanine floor below, will be a gin and coffee bar where customers can look over at the gin being made below in the distillery.

There will also be an area for gin tastings and tours as well as cocktail making classes.

Crystal House. Pic: Archant

Crystal House. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Plans also include a shop where you can buy gin and other spirits. Mr Evans, who recently declared he was closing the Ten Bells, in St Benedicts, because of a lack of outdoor space, said it was time for a new venture.

“We’ve finally done it, getting planning from the council has taken a very long time partly because of the pandemic,” he said. “We were going to do a seafood restaurant but Jarrold moved into that area so we are now doing a gin and coffee bar but also offering a spirits shop which is something different for Norwich.

“The top floor space, which is beautiful, can be for events and as sponsors of Castle Museum, which holds 700 weddings a year, we hope it will be ideal for receptions. You can hire our catering services or bring your own in. A lot of people visit Norwich and with our gin tastings and tours, we hope they will book one in and leave with a bottle of gin under their arm.”

In the planning report a council official stated: “In principle, as the proposed use should secure the long term preservation of the building, I recommend the application be approved.”

Russell Evans inside Crystal House, on the top floor, which will be made into a space to hire for ev

Russell Evans inside Crystal House, on the top floor, which will be made into a space to hire for events includng wedding receptions. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

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