13 May 2015: ‘Here for the beer’ with the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust

Here for the beer: Coltishall as a major brewing centre‘. Enjoy a glass of local beer at Margaret Bird’s illustrated talk on the glory days of a brewing village on the Norfolk Broads 1700–1840.

Everyone is welcome at the event, to be held at Coltishall on Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 7.30 pm. You can find details at the foot of the page.

Coltishall lines the north-eastern bank of the River Bure at what was from 1779  the downstream point of the Aylsham navigation (also known as the Bure navigation). A year later this village of under 600 persons had 11 maltings and three wholesale breweries and played a major role in the region’s economy.

Coltishall. Anchor Hotel 1947

The Anchor, Coltishall. When a brewer’s house it stood at the heart of an industrial quarter beside two maltings and a steam-powered brewery [photo Enid Perham 1947]

An architectural legacy

Producing malt and beer helped to shape the village of today. Some of the fine malthouses, of brick and flint, have been converted to residential use. Five houses where the brewery owners lived are still standing. All date from the start of the 18th century or earlier (Coltishall Hall and nearby Hazelwood House; Holly Lodge and the former Anchor Hotel, both near the river; and the Old House).

The diarist Mary Hardy, wife of one of the brewers, lived at what is now Holly Lodge, south of the church. From her diary we learn of the vitality of the public houses of the area, and of the manufacturers’ dependence on coal. The keels and wherries coming upstream from Great Yarmouth carried Tyneside coal on the last stages of its journey from the pits of the North-East.

Anchor's quart tankard, early C19

A pewter tankard holding two pints of beer. It was used at the Anchor, Coltishall until the 1960s [Margaret Bird collection]

Finding the venue

The event will be held in Coltishall Village Hall, Rectory Road, Coltishall, NR12 7HF. The village lies between Norwich and North Walsham (on the B1150), and the turning into Rectory Road is opposite the parish church on the Hoveton and Wroxham road (the B1354).

The Village Hall, shown on the map, is on the edge of playing fields near the corner with Westbourne Road. It has ample parking space. The small admission charge will include a glass of local beer or a soft drink: £1 for Bure Navigation Conservation Trust members; £2 for visitors.

The talk is hosted by the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust (BNCT), formed in 2012 to foster interest in the history and wildlife of this nine-mile stretch of canalised river to the market town of Aylsham. Its members also seek to improve public access along the footpaths bordering the waterway.

You can read more about the brewers and this event at Burnham Press, publishers of Mary Hardy’s diary.

The BNCT’s printable poster advertises the event.