Fresh vision for former Norwich music pub the Ferry Boat Inn

The Ferry Boat Inn in Norwich. Photo: Archant

The Ferry Boat Inn in Norwich. Photo: Archant - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHI

A fresh effort to breathe life into a boarded-up Norwich pub can be revealed today.

The Ferry Boat Inn, in King Street, used to be a key rock music venue, but it has been vacant since 2006.

A bid to turn it into a hostel for backpackers was abandoned and planning councillors last year rejected a bid to build 43 apartments there, stating plans were not sensitive to the conservation area.

Developers went back to the drawing board and have now lodged a scaled-back application, hoping that this will allay concerns. The original application proposed 43 apartments, some of which would be in a seven-storey tower.

This has been reduced to 41 dwellings, with some housed in a five-storey tower.

Developers Ferry Boat Developments LLP paid more than £500,000 for the site.

A statement on behalf of the applicants said the new vision represented the outcome of a 'process of refinement' following extensive consultation.

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David Eve, of Historic England, said previous concerns chiefly involved the scale of the tower on the King Street side of the site.

He said that the proposed reduction in height was a 'significant improvement' and would not wish to oppose the application in principle.

Lucie Carayon, of the Ancient Monuments Society, said: 'The site is of great significance and we are very concerned that important historic fabric may be lost as a result of the conversion works.'

The pub, near the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge, used to be called the Steam Packet, taking the name from a type of ship that sailed a regular route.

In the late 1800s one such steam packet travelled from Norwich to Bramerton Woods End and on to other resorts.

The pub can be traced back to the 1820s, and its name changed to the Ferry Boat Inn a century later because the landlord, William Thompson, operated a ferry service across the Wensum.

He was also a renowned boat builder.

In those days the river was a busy waterway at the heart of Norwich manufacturing life, and King Street was one of the most densely populated parts of the city.

Landlady Mottie Warminger, known as a great character, ran the pub for around three decades from the Second World War.

'Fag Ash Lil' would play the piano and the place would be packed.

The pub was known as an eclectic music venue, with genres ranging from jazz to heavy metal, and it was an important venue for young, emerging bands.

The previous application for flats was rejected last September, and a consultation on the revised application concluded today.

Norwich City Council's planning committee will decide the fate of the planning application for the Grade II listed building later this month.