East Anglian Pubs, 1965

Detail from the cover of 'East Anglian Pubs' by Vincent Jones.

Batsford published a whole series of guides to pubs in the South and East of England in the 1960s. Vincent Jones wrote the guide to East Anglia and here are some nuggets that caught our eye.

Intro­duc­tion: ‘Hous­es owned by all sorts of brew­ers are here; but there is a pref­er­ence for those which belong to East Anglian brew­eries and sell East Anglian beer. This choice is pure­ly per­son­al.’ Buy­ing local, resist­ing monop­oly – the SPBW-CAMRA ten­den­cy?

Sor­rel Horse, Barham, Suf­folk: ‘Those who fear that the bread and cheese and pick­les pub has alto­geth­er dis­ap­peared may take courage for here one is and a very fine one too.’ We can’t recall the last time we found a pub like this though we remem­ber them from child­hood.

→ Queen’s Head, Bly­ford, Suf­folk: ‘Among the snacks he is not­ed for his Scotch eggs.’

Lord Nel­son, Burn­ham Thor­pe, Nor­folk: ‘They are main­ly drinkers of mild ale in this area: it is drawn from the cask.’ More evi­dence of the East Coun­try as mild ter­ri­to­ry; inter­est­ing to note cask, draught and ‘drawn from the wood’ are used inter­change­ably through­out. (More on the devel­op­ment of the lan­guage around cask/keg here.)

The Snow­cat, Cam­bridge: ‘This is a mod­ern house, with a mod­ern name, built in 1959 to serve a mod­ern com­mu­ni­ty.’ That is a good mod­ern name – shame they chick­ened out and even­tu­al­ly renamed it ‘The Grove’. ‘It is unusu­al among pub­lic hous­es… in hav­ing its cel­lar on the first floor, giv­ing grav­i­ty feed of the beer to the bars through glass tubes. Tra­di­tion­al­ists need not flinch: the beer is just as good and it keeps bet­ter; the prob­a­bil­i­ty is that it will arrive in your glass in bet­ter con­di­tion than in many old­er pubs.’ We’d like to see a pho­to of this set­up.

→ Ye Olde George, Chat­teris, Cambs: ‘In the din­ing-room the house spe­cial­ties are cur­ried mut­ton and cur­ried prawns.’ There are lots of exot­ic dish­es like this men­tioned through­out the book sug­gest­ing that, in this part of the coun­try at least, the food in many pubs had moved beyond the prim­i­tive by the mid-1960s.

→ Queen Vic­to­ria, Dun­mow, Essex: ‘Behind the bar is a true coun­try servery in the man­ner of a tra­di­tion­al farm dairy, a mas­sive beam sup­port­ing the roof with beneath it a long line of casks full of the local beer, pro­duced by one of the small­est brew­eries in the coun­try.’ The brew­ery was Dun­mow; we’d nev­er heard of it; it was acquired by Char­ring­ton in 1965.

The Never Turn Back, a modern pub in Cambridgeshire.
One of the many Leo Gib­bons-Smith illus­tra­tions from the book.

→ Red Lion, East Bergholt, Suf­folk: ‘You may put the chil­dren in the gar­den, where there is a swing and a slide, and in either of the com­modi­ous bars take your beer drawn from the wood.’ Between us, we spent a lot of time play­ing on slides in pub gar­dens. The author is gen­er­al­ly in favour of out­side facil­i­ties for kids.

→ Eight Bells, Hadleigh, Suf­folk: ‘[A] pub which still has its snug is one to trea­sure.’

→ Angel, Heck­ford­bridge, Essex: ‘The draught beer here always come up in beau­ti­ful con­di­tion, which is not sur­pris­ing, apart from the skill of the land­lord, since two streams from spring which rise in the car park flow under­neath the cel­lar…’ It’s unusu­al to read about beer con­di­tion in books from this peri­od; as you’ll dis­cov­er at the end of this post, Mr Jones had a thing about the tem­per­a­ture of beer.

→ Man­ning’s (Vic­to­ria Inn), Ipswich, Suf­folk: ‘It is a pop­u­lar place for lunch among busi­ness-men and offers a vari­ety of cold meats and sal­ads, with in the win­ter soups, ham­burg­ers and the like.’ Burg­ers are a pub sta­ple now – this must be one of the ear­li­est appear­ances.

→ Mar­garet Catch­pole Hotel, Ipswich: ‘[In] the win­ter… the [Tollemache Cob­bold] Old Strong from the cask should cer­tain­ly be tried.’ This reads as if it’s come from a CAMRA guide book pub­lished a decade lat­er.

→ The Prince Albert, Low­est­oft, Suf­folk: ‘This is a bold effort by a small coun­try brew­ery [Adnams] to pro­vide some­thing out­stand­ing in mod­ern pubs and it comes off. It was built in 1960 and has been just­ly praised both by archi­tects and pub-users… Alto­geth­er it is a great suc­cess and cer­tain­ly worth a vis­it by all save the most con­firmed anti-mod­ernists.’ Adnams as pio­neers of mod­ernist pub archi­tec­ture! It now looks like vague­ly Vic­to­ri­an (via Google Street View):

The Dol­phin, Nor­wich, Nor­folk: ‘And yet it is just a local pub – a notable act of civic respon­si­bil­i­ty.’ An asset of com­mu­ni­ty val­ue, you might say?

Jol­ly Sailor, Orford, Suf­folk: ‘Below in one of the bars there is a glass case of stuffed Chi­nese muff dogs bred in the reign of Hen­ry VIII. It’s that sort of pub.’ Like some­thing from The League of Gen­tle­men?

→ The Dol­phin, Stist­ed, Essex: ‘The present licensee keeps three aviaries of orna­men­tal pheas­ants, Bar­bary doves, ban­tams, Guinea fowl and budgeri­gars.’ And why not?

The Swan Hotel, Thaxted, Essex: ‘One spe­cial­ty of the house is its unusu­al offer­ing of eight dif­fer­ent draught and keg beers…’ That’s an ear­ly beer exhi­bi­tion, then.  The beers were: ‘Cask beers: Ray­ments Bit­ter, Wor­thing­ton E; Keg beers: Bass, Char­ring­ton Toby, Flow­er’s, Ind Coope Dou­ble Dia­mond, Wat­ney Red Bar­rel, Whit­bread Tankard’. All the keg bit­ter, basi­cal­ly. Was Wor­thing­ton E ever a cask beer, or has our author been tricked?

The Ship, Wells Next the Sea, Nor­folk: ‘It is a true fish­er­man’s pub. Long may it resist all mod­erni­sa­tion.’ It did­n’t and now seems to be a hol­i­day cot­tage.

The Cock, West Winch, Nor­folk: ‘Here is a bold attempt to pro­vide a real­ly mod­ern pub, built in 1963. The plas­tic sign is rather brash but the build­ing itself is inter­est­ing and pleas­ing. The tech­ni­cal­ly mind­ed will, per­haps, like to know that it has a hyper­bol­ic para­baloid roof con­struc­tion.’ The roof is less excit­ing than it sounds and the pub is now a Chi­nese restau­rant:

→ End note – ‘Chill Fol­lies’: ‘Here­sies and van­dalisms are rife… We are even being advised to chill our stout… These are fads for those who fre­quent hot lands. Kick drinks may be as ice-cubed as you please. No drink you want to taste should ever be so treat­ed. This is no snob­bism but a mat­ter of fact… Eng­lish beer is a drink of sub­tle and com­plex flavours which you can lose if you treat it ill. It is brewed to be drunk at cel­lar tem­per­a­ture. The ide­al for draught bit­ter is ± 55°F. Keg and light bot­tled beer may be tak­en a degree or two cool­er. Strong beer should nev­er be ruined by chill­ing… In these things let tra­di­tion be your guide. Do not suf­fer the PR gents to befog you with for­eign snob­beries.’ That prob­a­bly would­n’t seem out of place copied-and-past­ed as a com­ment on a blog post about cask vs. keg, craft beer vs. real ale.

We bought our copy of this book for £2.81, deliv­ered. It bare­ly looks to have been read though it does smell pleas­ing­ly of woodsmoke.

12 thoughts on “East Anglian Pubs, 1965”

  1. Fas­ci­nat­ing stuff. You don’t seem to come across col­lec­tions of exot­ic pets (or trop­i­cal fish) in pubs now. Also con­firms that the first mul­ti-beer free­hous­es sold a range of kegs.

    By coin­ci­dence, I was re-read­ing The Death of the Eng­lish Pub by Christo­pher Hutt the oth­er day in which he cites the Prince Albert as a good exam­ple of mod­ern pub design.

    I’m sure I’ve read that at that time Draught Bass and Wor­thing­ton E were actu­al­ly the same beer, but sold under dif­fer­ent names to suit local pref­er­ences.

    1. We used to go to a pub in Har­ringay about five or so years ago where the land­lord kept trop­i­cal fish and mon­i­tor lizards around the place. Very odd place gen­er­al­ly, bit of a Mad Max vibe. Since closed down, per­haps unsur­pris­ing­ly.

  2. Wor­thing­ton E had a long and ven­er­a­ble his­to­ry as a cask beer long before it was mar­ket­ed as a nation­al keg brand.

  3. Ah, The Snow­cat. I nev­er went in, but used to cycle past it reg­u­lar­ly, as it was in a rough part of town. It’s now Cam­bridge Gur­d­wara, hav­ing shut as a pub a few years back…

  4. The Snow­cat in Cam­bridge was one of two Greene King pubs with an upstairs cel­lar where the cask beers came down a see through pipe (the oth­er was the Sil­ver Jubilee in Peter­bor­ough (dat­ing from 1977) which I went in reg­u­lar­ly in the eight­ies when it was a suc­cess­ful local). Both now have closed and this dis­pense pre­sum­ably con­signed to the his­to­ry books.

    Mild was still an ever present in Suf­folk and Nor­folk pubs in the ear­ly eight­ies – GK, Tol­ly, Adnams and Nor­wich (Wat­ney Mann) all brewed it and sold it in all their pubs and togeth­er they com­prised the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of the pub own­er­ship in the two coun­ties – the Nor­wich Mild was keg although they did for a time sell a cask mild (Bullards Mild).

  5. The Bats­ford Pub Guides were an inter­est­ing series, although I’ve often won­dered why they stopped at just six. Over the years I have man­aged to accu­mu­late all half dozen, and reviewed them here on my blog, back in Decem­ber 2012. Strange­ly enough, two of the pho­tos seem to have dis­ap­peared from the post.

    As I said at the time, “These six guides pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing snap­shot into a world of pubs and beers that has changed out of all recog­ni­tion, and in some places van­ished alto­geth­er. It is a world that pre­cedes the start of my drink­ing career by some 10 years, but is a world I can still con­nect and empathise with; a world that is at times still famil­iar yet at oth­er times dis­tant.”


    1. Thanks for shar­ing that link, Paul. We prob­a­bly did read it when you post­ed it but the old mem­o­ry banks occa­sion­al­ly fail us.

      We said to each oth­er this morn­ing as we put this post togeth­er that it’s a shame there’s no guide to, say, Der­byshire, or Cheshire, in the series.

  6. The Four Can­dles”, a ‘Spoons branch in the cen­tre of Oxford, is a mod­ern-day ver­sion of “The Snow­cat”, as it too has an upstairs cel­lar !

  7. I used to drink in the Sor­rel Horse near Ipswich from time to time in the mid-70s. The land­lord was a love­ly old eccen­tric who quite reg­u­lar­ly held lock-ins on Sat­ur­day nights. It was a Tol­ly Cob­bold pub and the beer was always immac­u­late­ly kept.

    Dark beer was very pop­u­lar in East Anglia back then. My favourite was Tol­ly’s Cob­nut but I also liked Adnam’s mild mixed with their brown ale. Alas, for bet­ter or worse, these brew­ing styles have long gone

Comments are closed.