Fears city will lose one in ten pubs by 2030

Richard Dixon, pub protection officer for Norwich and District branch of CAMRA, issued a warning

Richard Dixon, pub protection officer for Norwich and District branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), issued a warning about the declining number of pubs - Credit: Archant/CAMRA

The city could lose 10pc of its beloved pubs by 2030 if a decline in punters continues.

And landlords and pub protection officers alike have warned the closure figures could be higher if the cost of living crisis continues.

It comes after new data collated by Norwich Pub Detective and Norwich Society member Jonathan Hooton, 70, revealed that half of Norwich's most historic pubs had closed.

He calculated that of the 192 pubs within Norwich's outer ring road in 1985, just 97 remained in 2021.

Cost of living pressures, a hike in utility bills and a change in people's working and leisure habits are major threats to pubs' survival.

Mr Hooton gave a rallying call: "By using them you are not going to lose them."

Richard Dixon, pubs protection manager of the Norwich branch of CAMRA

Richard Dixon, pubs protection manager of the Norwich branch of CAMRA - Credit: Richard Dixon

Richard Dixon, pub protection officer for Norwich and District branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said the city and surrounding suburbs could lose 10pc of its pubs by 2030.

Most Read

He said: "I don't see the decline of pubs going. Where we see it most is in the suburban areas.

"In the city centre you have people coming and going so businesses in these areas fair better but people have lost the habit of using the local pub since Covid.

"Trade isn't helped by the rising prices. I can see more closing.

"Since Covid the older generation is not going out as much which has exacerbated the situation. You don't have as many people about at lunchtime in the pubs and more people are working from home."

Mr Dixon added customers were arriving at venues later and leaving earlier so they did not have to spend as much.

He believes people are also buying cheaper supermarket alcohol.

"It isn't the case of people turning up to have a drink. They are looking for a bit more.

"Landlords have to work hard to attract people.

"Bringing people into the city with residential developments would boost trade," he added.

The organisation's 2019 Norwich pub survey revealed there were 176 licenced premises in the Fine City, which included hotels, cocktail bars and restaurants.

Landlord of the Fat Cat pub in Norwich, Colin Keatley.Photo: Simon FinlayCopy: Steve CoxFor: EDP

Landlord of two of the Fat Cat pubs in Norwich, Colin Keatley - Credit: Simon Finlay

Colin Keatley, 72, who owns the Fat Cat and Canary in Thorpe Road, West End Street and Fat Cat brewery in Lawson Road, said: "A lot of businesses have struggled to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

"You are up against higher wages for staff - which is fair - massive increases in utilities and wholesalers have put up prices 10pc over the past 10 months, meaning we have to put our prices up.

"Our businesses are ticking over okay and are back to pre-pandemic levels but you are fighting pressures on a daily basis. You have to absorb price hikes.

"Norwich is a buzzy city and I think its businesses will survive. Overall, most of the businesses that closed over the pandemic reopened but there are a lot of premises that are struggling. 

"I fear for the future of the industry and think more pubs will close. People are not using pubs like they did 60 years ago."

He added people had more options of leisure attractions including bowling alleys, cafe, bars and restaurants, to visit compared to decades ago when the traditional boozer was the major draw.

The pub boss said many Norwich venues had a premises licence and pubs had to have a particular niche to draw people in.

Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich, says things are tough for the industry

Dawn Hopkins, landlady of the Rose Inn on Queens Road - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dawn Hopkins, who runs the Rose Inn in Queens Road, said: "It is very difficult running a pub.

"My water bills have gone up 150pc and the cost of beer has gone up from 10 to 15pc. It is scary."

She added people were coming out less because they were being squeezed financially and she was seeing fewer customers than before the pandemic.

"My pub trade picks up in the winter because of football but other pubs are fearing for the winter. I'm hopeful Norwich pubs can hang on but it is not going to be easy," she added.

The landlady said the a cut in VAT and business rates would help.

Jonathan Hooton, the pub detective, outside his favourite Norwich pub, the White Lion in Oak Street.

Jonathan Hooton, the pub detective, outside his favourite Norwich pub, the White Lion in Oak Street. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Mr Hooton said: "People are not going to stop drinking but they are not drinking in pubs as much."