'We're heartbroken - Brickies is a real family' say owners of The Brickmakers as it announces closure due to rising rent costs
PUBLISHED: 17:54 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:52 22 September 2018
Ed Sheeran, You Me At Six, Bring Me The Horizon and hundreds of local bands have stormed its stage but after 15 years at the heart of Norwich's live music scene, The Brickmakers is being forced to close - due to a potentially 'crippling' 12 per cent rent increase.
Shutting the doors for good when their lease runs out on January 29, pub owners Charley South, Pam South and Emma Rose – who pay rent to Ei Publican Partnerships, say they have no other option but to close.
Mrs Rose said: “We’re heartbroken. ‘Brickies’ is a real family. You won’t find anyone more passionate than us but it’s just not tenable anymore. Business has taken a drastic downturn, and we’re paying a lot of people.”
With 18 members of staff and by booking 110 bands a month, both rooms are constantly filled with music lovers most nights. But that still hasn’t been enough to ensure a future for the Sprowston Road rock and metal venue.
“We’ve all taken on extra jobs to make it work over the years; I would stay here and run this pub forever but it’s just not possible,” Mrs Rose added.
With posters of legendary rockstars like Ozzy Osbourne and Jimi Hendrix dotted around its walls and a giant oil-painted mural created by a loyal gig-goer, it’s easy to see why ‘Brickies’ - which holds up to 550 people across its two rooms - has been the city’s music hub for so long.
Alongside hosting Ed Sheeran – “he’s the nicest guy you could ever meet, being in a room with him you knew he was special” – the venue’s second room, B2, provides a stepping stone for local artists having hosted the semi-finals of Norwich’s Next Big Thing competition, which wa run by the Evening News.
An Ei Publican Partnerships spokesman said: “We are in touch with our publicans Emma, Charley and Pam regarding their agreement at The Brickmakers.
“We’re aware of the special place this pub has in the local community and the great job they have done to make the pub such a success through supporting the live music scene.
“We are hopeful we can reach a mutually agreeable solution to resolve the current situation.”
Reaction to pub closure announcement
Since The Brickmakers Arms’ closure was announced scores of people have already shown their support for the venue, leaving its three owners understandably overwhelmed.
Pam South said: “We never expected to find ourselves in this position but we’re so grateful to everyone for their kind messages.
“There have been a lot of tears, because this place means the world to us.”
Jay Sturman, who joined the venue as a barman last year, said: “I am really shocked, I can’t quite believe it. I used to come here from the age of 16, having a laugh and a drink.
“The atmosphere is great and we’ve had a lot of good bands; it’s going to annoy a lot of people, especially the regular customers.
“We’re one of the only venues around the city that plays rock and metal music. It’s a real shame.”
Richard Shashamané, who runs Norwich: Music City, UK – a Facebook page which lists gigs and news relating to the city’s music culture – said it was the latest in “a very worrying trend of venue closures”.
He called the closure “shocking and surprising ... and very unexpected news.
“Following on the heels of the closures of The Owl Sanctuary and The Vagabond, plus a few others no longer putting on live music this is worrying indeed.
“There seemed quite a scene for heavier music there and it was one of the few places that had live music every night. A big loss.”
He added that the city needs “some new venues to pop up. The Owl is gone for good it seems but something in its spirit can rise up, I hope.”
Wee Davey, another member of the group, said: “It’s a worrying trend, and the loss of venues destroys the musical potential of the whole city.
“I’m just relying on Norwich’s amazing ability to bounce back, as it has done so many times before.”
Punter, Paul Wahlberg, called the closure a “huge blow for local budding musicians” while Tim Ritchie said: “You should be so proud of the institution you created there.”