Raise a glass to these pubs that are fighting on
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 October 2018
COLIN TOOKE COLLECTION
If you enjoy a drink down at your local, it is time to raise your glass and drink a toast to "absent friends" - not people but pubs in the Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and neighbouring villages that have survived despite the sharp decline in recent years as leisure habits have changed.
From Tom Gilbert, of Church Road, Gorleston, comes an e-mail prompted by my September feature on the closure of a trio of Yarmouth public houses (Apollo Tavern, Gallon Pot and Crystal Inn).
Writes Tom: “Recently, whilst researching my paternal grandmother’s family, I discovered that a relative had been a publican in the early 1900s in Yarmouth.
“His name was Arthur Henry Hallums and he kept the Eastern Star at 68/69 Middle Market Road. He died in 1940 and the hostelry closed in 1944, I believe. There appears not to be a 68/69 Middle Market Road today - the gap appears to be filled by Union Street.
“He married and raised a family here. His father was a baker.”
I think that “gap filler” is actually Union Street; Union Place was off Crown Road.
Tom wondered if historian and author Colin Tooke, who in 2004 and 2006 published two books on our local locals, could throw any light on the existence of the pub and its history. He certainly could.
After scouring through his records, Colin tells us: “The pub dated from 1865. By 1928 it was owned by (local brewery) Lacons but suffered a direct hit from a bomb at 2.30pm on October 31 1940. Two people were injured.
“Lacons decided not to rebuild and the licence was finally surrendered in March 1957. It appears that the brewery held on to the licence of damaged and closed pubs until they decided what to do with them after the war.”
Colin’s Time, Gentlemen, Please! records that the Eastern Star was a beer-house on the corner of Middle Market Road and Union Road but was destroyed during a 1940 German air raid. He suggests that Tom’s belief that the pub closed in 1944 could be because sometimes the official licences remained in force even though their premises had gone.
In my 1937 Kelly’s Street Directory the landlady of the Eastern Star was listed as Mrs E Soanes and its location given as Middle Market Road.
Tony Gray, of Collingwood Road, Yarmouth, underlines the profusion of pubs by sending me his 1863 list of pubs in our borough - all 171 of them! That must have taken him plenty of time and patience to compile.
Tony also mentions the “inevitable decline” of the hostelries in Yarmouth and Gorleston. You don’t have to like a pint to be aware of those regular closures.
Most entries on Tony’s list are conventional names still being used more than a century and a half later. Some listed have survived - for example, the King’s Arms in Northgate Street, Yarmouth; the two Feathers (Gorleston and Yarmouth town centres), the Rumbold Arms (Southtown Road), the Theatre Tavern on Theatre Plain...
How many remain? I have no idea because many are in streets I seldom if ever pass along. Besides, it is difficult to tell if a pub is still in business or not without looking for lit windows or trying to open the door.
As for the long-gone Eastern Star, today’s reference to it affords me the opportunity to mention that for a time between the wars, my maternal grandmother kept the North Star on the Fullers Hill-North Quay corner; it closed in 1937.
The unfortunate Eastern Star was not in Tony Gray’s comprehensive 1853 list because it was not constructed until 1865. Also an absentee was the North Star, the pub my grandma ran for a few years pre-war, probably built after that list was compiled.
Many traditional names date back to previous centuries and are duplicated all over the country, often with some localisation.