The Norwich brewery that had 1,250 pubs!

S&P directors in the 1890s

S&P directors in the 1890s Left to right, back row: H T Patteson, Don Stevens, C Finch. Front row: G H Morse and H W Patteson. - Credit: Norwich Heritage Projects

Across the city and county so many of our much manufacturing base has gone…and it can be easy to forget how the factories, large and small, shaped our lives. It was almost a case of, you name it we made it, and many people worked in the same factories all their lives. It was more a way of life than a job. But, when the end came, it happened quickly for the likes of the brewing and shoe industry in the city. In a matter of a few years the factories were closed – and then most were demolished.

The end of an era.

One such brewery was Steward & Patteson, which in the 1950s, was taking over other smaller breweries which stood in its way.

Ready for the off. Steward & Patteson’s Pockthorpe Brewery in around 1900.

Ready for the off. Steward & Patteson’s Pockthorpe Brewery in around 1900. - Credit: Norwich Heritage Projects

In the summer of 1957  they snapped up the East Anglian Breweries of Ely and Huntingdon, adding another 400 pubs to their estate which stood at 1,250…but times were about to change.The story starts in the early 1790s when John Patteson bought a brewery at Pockthorpe in Norwich and was soon taking over neighbouring breweries. He would play a leading role in city life as sheriff, mayor and MP.

At the time there were nine breweries in the city and that rose to around 27 by the 1830s.

Norwich had  more than 550 pubs back then and most of them were owned by breweries.

At Pockthorpe John was succeeded by John Staniforth Patteson and other members of the family plus Peter Finch from a rival brewery which was taken over.Over the years the smaller breweries fell by the wayside to the “big four” Steward & Patteson, Bullards, Morgans and Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs.

Most Read

Working in a big old  brewery was no easy task but a story by Pauline Smith (Payne) who was one of the “ladies in the office” employed by S&P during the second world war highlights the family spirit.

“One of the directors, old Colonel Morse, lived at The Mead in Coltishall. I remember when our home in Greenhills Road, was bombed, he called me into his office which really worried me.

Staff all dressed up for a "do" at the S&P brewery in the 1920s or 30s.

All dressed up for a “bit of a do” at the S&P brewery in the 1920s/30s. Can you shed any more light on it? Photo: . - Credit: Archant library

“But he said to me ‘Miss Payne, do you have anywhere to live?’

“So I told him that we were going to move in with my aunt and he said: ‘Otherwise I can tell you now that we’ve plenty of room at the Mead and you can bring your family with you, His heart was in the right place,” recalled Pauline. S&P had premises stretching across Norwich, the rest of Norfolk. Great Yarmouth and Ipswich.

Then, in 1961, S&P and Bullards each bought half a share in Morgan’s modern brewery which had 400 tied pubs. That was when Gerald Bullard and John Morse sat down together and cut a pack of cards to see who would have the first pick.

They actually sold the King Street brewery to Watney Mann who would eventually rule the roost. By 1968 Pockthorpe Brewery (S&P) was making around 131,000 barrels each year but was the beginning of the end for S&P.

On January 27, 1970 the last beer was made at Pockthorpe and within a few years the brewery had gone. The days of the beer barons, who played a leading role in Norwich life were over and in 1985 Norwich Brewery (Watney Mann) finally closed with the loss of 160 jobs.

It was time for the smaller breweries offering a fine range of quality ales to take over.

Look out for the book, Norwich Pubs and Breweries, Past and Present, by Frances and Michael Holmes of Norwich Heritage Projects.

Kett’s Finale, brewed in 1985 was the last beer packaged on the old Morgan’s Brewery site in King Street, Norwich. It was described as a tribute to the skill of the Norfolk brewers.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter