Breweries were the toast of the city

It's reunion time for all those who worked in the Norwich breweries - and time to toast a way of life.

As former brewery workers in Norwich gather for a reunion on Friday let's take a look inside the last of the big city breweries.

These pictures are from a collection of slides kept by Richard Little who worked at Norwich Brewery until it closed in 1985 with the loss of about 160 jobs.

By the end of April that year brewing had ceased although the distribution, commercial and administration departments remained on the site. By 2005 it had been totally demolished.

'The photographs give us a glimpse of what it was like working there and they will bring back a lot of memories,' said Richard who spent a lifetime in the brewing industry – as did many others in those days.

They were taken at a time when the glory days of brewing in Norwich were coming to an end.

In 1783 there were nine breweries serving a population of about 35,000. By 1836 this had grown to 27 but slowly the big names were taking over and as they did many local beers disappeared.

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By the 1920s there were just the 'big four' – Steward & Patteson, Bullards, Morgans and Youngs and Crawshay & Youngs.

The swinging '60s saw the arrival of keg beers and lagers – times were changing and the old family companies were feeling the pinch. There were various takeovers and mergers took place with Watney Mann coming out as top dog.

It became Norwich Brewery at what was The Old Brewery (Morgans) in King Street where it operated until it closed – it really was the end of an era.

Among the breweries which have taken over from the Norwich giants is Woodforde's of Woodbastwick and to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee it has produced a beer called Norfolk Gem.

This is a patriotic ale which contains Norfolk barley and has been made by master brewer Neil Bain.

A great opportunity to toast the Jubilee with a taste of Norfolk.

The reunion for all former brewery workers, men and women, is taking place at Arkwrights Club, at the city end of Hall Road, on Friday May 25 from 7.30pm.

'Everybody is very welcome. We hope to see as many people as possible,' said Richard Little who spent a lifetime working at Norwich breweries.

'There was a special bond of friendship between the brewery workers. It was more than just a job,' he said.

There will be a warm welcome for anyone who worked at the different breweries which operated in the city over the years.

It was a sad day when Watneys pulled the plug on The Norwich Brewery in 1985 with the loss of around 160 jobs.

For more details call:

David Elden on Norwich (01603) 765621. John Savage on 404782 or Fred Warrent on 406441.

And of course you can just turn up - the bar will be open.