Today’s Norwich Pub of the Week is the Bell in the city centre

If you were looking for one pub to symbolise Norwich, then, arguably, the Bell in the city centre would be it.

Shoppers flock to the Bell during the daytime and revellers at night, and young and old make up a good mix the rest of the time. The pub is virtually guaranteed to be busy whatever the weather outside, and there's bound to be something going on.

Part of its attraction, as a Wetherspoon's pub, is obviously the competitive drinks prices.

But the Bell has a history going back centuries. It is believed to date back to about 1480 and, because of its central location, is probably the hub of the city's drinking culture.

At various times in its history it has been home to the Hellfire club, the Revolution club, The Eldon Club, and during the Second World War it was the headquarters and billets for the American Women's Army Corps.

The pub's clientele today may be different, but punters still come from far and wide to enjoy the atmosphere and marvel at the scary Quasimodo ringing the bell upstairs.

One of the pub managers, Michael Loveridge, said it was the first Wetherspoon's to open outside the M25.

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It was a make or break gamble by Wetherspoon's founder Tim Martin, which has paid off handsomely, with four Wetherpoon's pubs now in Norwich alone.

The pub is now leading the way for the chain across the country as it has joined up with this year's City of Ale event in Norwich.

The first City of Ale event last year was a huge success, and the Bell, believed to be the first Wetherspoon's nationwide to join such a local event, is on board and aims to strengthen its ties to the community.

Mr Loveridge said: 'We've got a great atmosphere and the staff are happy here. We employ nearly 40 staff.

'We've got good customer-based relationships and a diverse age range of people coming in. Young and old get on well here.

'The heritage of English pubs is all about people getting together and socialising.

'We're losing that across the country, but we want to keep that going.'

About 20pc of the pub's customers are regulars, Mr Loveridge said, and it stocks about 14 real ales and 11 lagers.

The Evening News has been urging people to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.

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