Pub of the week: Special year of anniversaries for The Whalebone in Norwich

Pub of the Week, The Whalebone, Norwich, Steve Fiske and Mike Lorenz. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Pub of the Week, The Whalebone, Norwich, Steve Fiske and Mike Lorenz. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

This year will be a landmark one for the Whalebone pub, on Magdalen Road, Norwich. Not just the pub itself, but the two men behind it as well.

Next month, the pub will host a beer festival, which will see more than 40 cask ales brought into the venue. It will be the 20th time that it has hosted such an event.

For more than 20 years, the pub has been owned by Mike Lorenz, managing director of Norwich-based company Broadland Taverns Limited and he is celebrating his 40th year in the licensing trade.

In 2006, Mr Lorenz showed his faith in the pub, selling several of his other leases to reinvest in the venue.

Mr Lorenz, said: 'Over the past decade, I have made the Whalebone my primary focus and in this time I've invested a great deal in it.

'In recent years we have added a heated terrace, which has proved a big asset and in 2012, we also redeveloped part of the pub that was at the time just a garage, into The Malt House, our function


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The pub prides itself on being a welcoming, traditional pub, which champions locally-sourced drinks. At any given time, the pub will have 10 cask ales on pump, several of which will come from local breweries.

Mr Lorenz added: 'Our vision is for a traditional pub, coupled with progress. We also pride ourselves on our service; despite not being a food pub, we offer table service and strive to create a welcoming, safe environment.'

Pay a visit to the Whalebone, and you may also be welcomed by Harvey, the pub dog, a black labrador belonging to general manager, Steve Fiske.

Mr Fiske, 46, has been in charge of the pub for 21 years, and is marking 25 years in the business. He said: 'I take great pride in seeing the pub grow, each year we try to get better and try new things. We always try to offer fantastic products and service with a smile.'

The pub also greatly values its community, each year choosing a charity to support. This year that good cause is local testicular cancer charity It's On The Ball, and throughout January the pub will be serving Tobi's Tipple, a special beer brewed for the charity, and donating 10p for each pint sold.

History of the pub

The Whalebone was originally built around 1840, as The Whalebone Inn, and incorporated a malt house, a brewery and stables.

Located in the north of the city, it served as the last stop for the city's tram line, with a nearby station off Denmark Road.

The pub gets its name from a large whaling community that occupied the region at the time.

Mr Lorenz said: 'The pub's name comes from an actual whalebone that was found in Sewell Park College in Norwich.

'The whalebone had been brought back by a merchant seaman, and was being used as an archway.

'In those days, seamen would often bring back large artefacts like this to show off the spoils of their travels.'

Mr Lorenz still believes that part of the bone may still remain, though he has been unable to find it.

In the 1900s, the pub was part of local brewing history. It was owned by Bullard & Son, one of Norwich's former breweries.

Upon the walls of the pub is a map of Norwich, showing what the area was like in the 19th century.

Before being taken over by Mr Lorenz, the pub was owned by another brewery – London-based brewery, Courage.

In 2012, the part of the pub where the malt house formerly stood was redeveloped into a function area.