Orwell Public Houses, and publicans

Orwell Pubs – Background history

In 1873 a malthouse and brewery were built

The Census of 1851 suggested that Orwell was a thriving village, which included four public houses and several beer sellers.

In 1873 a malthouse and brewery were built on the Orwell side of the main road in New Wimpole, with Oatland House (later The Grange) built to house the brewer. The brewery was an important feature of the village economy, both as an employer and a supplier to the local public houses where beer had formerly been brewed on the premises. However, it was bought out and closed by a larger company in 1902.

could be public houses, beer houses or beer retailers

Review of past editions of Kelly's Directory identifies that drinking locations could be listed as public houses, beer houses or beer retailers. Names of beer retailers included George Breed, George Everett, Oliver Newell, Charles Marshall, John Swan, Nancy Swan and George Flack (these names are listed in the Orwell Bulletin of December 1983).

Impact of Coprolite Boom

The village public houses multiplied during the coprolite boom of the 1870s, with the following (possibly familiar named) pubs ready to supply liquid refreshments:

Photo:The White Hart in 1930s

The White Hart in 1930s

  • The Chequers (first licenced 1815), Town Green Road

  • The White Hart (13 High Street, Orwell)

  • The Nag's Head (see comments below), 44 High Street Orwell

  • The Duke of Wellington, Stocks Lane

  • The Fox & Hounds, New Orwell main road

  • The Queen Victoria, New Orwell main road,

All of the above pubs were still serving Orwellians in 1950.

Photo:The Duke of Wellington in 1960s

The Duke of Wellington in 1960s

  • The Old English Gentleman (closed at the end of the 19th century), 85 High Street

    Photo:The former Old English Gentleman in 1930s

    The former Old English Gentleman in 1930s

  • The Red Lion (demolished around 1970), east end of thatched wall in High Street

    Photo:The Red Lion and thatched wall in 1950s

    The Red Lion and thatched wall in 1950s








  • The Retreat, (which was built specifically for the coprolite diggers and was variously known as The Hector and The Shant) in Malton Road.

Photo:The Chequers in 1960s

The Chequers in 1960s

The Chequers is the only pub still trading. Historically, not all public houses were the sole trade of the owners/tenants, and many if not most male publicans carried on another trade such as carpentry, as carriers or blacksmithing, leaving their wife to preside over the premises during the day. This assisted the preservation of so many pubs in such a small village.

The Closure of the Nag's Head in 1966
Photo:The Nag's Head in 1930s

The Nag's Head in 1930s

Cyril Pagram, who took over as publican of The Nag's Head from Arthur Goates in the late 1950s, recalled that "beer prices during the early 1960s remained quite stable at 1/9d (8p) a pint for bitter and 1/3d (6p) for mild beer. Brown ale was about 10d (4p) a bottle and twenty Players cigarettes about 1/- (5p)". In 1966 "only 2 pubs were left by then out of six which had continued after the war" (The Nag's Head and The Chequers) when "the owners, Flowers Breweries, decided that the village could only support one pub". But as a result of a village petition, Flowers were persuaded to close down The Nag's Head rather than their original choice, The Chequers.

This gallery was added by Martin Grigor on 18/09/2012.

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