Norwich Pub Detective: Legacies of former Morning Star pubs shine on

Jonathan Hooton, the Norwich Pub Detective, outside his favourite Norwich pub, the White Lion in Oak Street

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

He is known as the Norwich Pub Detective due to his fascination with all things to do with the city's famous pub legacy. And this week Jonathan Hooton explores how clues still present today shed light on a three past pubs which share the same name.

Number 2 Southwell Road, presently flats, is a building that has many clues of a past existence.

There is a corner entrance way and on the walls, between the ground and first floors, there are battens that look as though they supported a board of some sort that must have been lit up by the seemingly redundant overhead light brackets.

Also by the door facing onto Ninham Street at street level are a pair of metal doors that look suspiciously as they led to a cellar.

The former Morning Star pub building on Southwell Road, Norwich.

The former Morning Star pub building on Southwell Road, Norwich. - Credit: Derek McDonald

Is this another of Norwich’s lost pubs? The answer of course is yes.


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This was a beer house named the Morning Star which started trading in 1869 although there is evidence that the building, now much altered, could well have a late 18th century or early 19th century origin.

It eventually gained a full licence in 1959 when it was transferred from the Railway Stores at 2 Heigham Street when it was shut in 1958.

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This had previously been the Cow and Hare, which was bought by the Eastern Midland Railway Company.

They then demolished it and built the Railway Stores to serve their new Norwich City station at the bottom of Barn Road.

However, the Morning Star was built to serve the growing suburbs that were appearing south of the old City walls in the parish of Lakenham.

The former Morning Star pub building on Southwell Road, Norwich.

The former Morning Star pub building on Southwell Road, Norwich. - Credit: Jonathan Hooton

Its first landlord, John Mayes, obviously liked to join in with his customers for a convivial pint or two.

The norfolkpubs website states that during the first year he was there he got fined £5 for assaulting constable Meale when “the worse for drink Mr Mayes had pulled the whiskers of the police constable as he was being taken into custody” and that a “quantity if hair was produced in court” as evidence having been recovered after the assault.

Despite this he remained as landlord until 1883.

The earlier photograph of the building does show that the battens did support name boards but the pub was still to undergo a further change before ceasing trading.

In 1994 the Morning Star became the Cask and Keg and remained trading under that name until 2003 when the pub shut to be converted into a multi-bedroom property and became the Cask and Keg guest house in 2005.

The last landlords were Nicholas and Colin Ward and their names are still over the doorway of the building as the licensees.

There were two other Morning Stars in Norwich, both of which have gone.

The beer house of the same name at 45 Heigham Street, almost opposite where the Orchard Tavern used to stand, stopped trading in 1910 and has since been demolished.

The other pub of this name was on Pottergate which looked onto St Gregory’s green. It was demolished in 1938 and rebuilt and continued trading as the Morning Star.

Subsequently it became the Brown Derby, then the Pottergate Tavern and finally the Birdcage until the Covid lockdown.

So Norwich has lost all its Morning Stars, although as we have seen, the evidence of an incarnation of a public house still remains in Southwell Road, which has lost other pubs too.

On the opposite side of the road to the Morning Star was the Duke of Norfolk and the Portland House and the Roebuck.

The former two were demolished in the 1940s but the Roebuck remained until 1994 and the building still remains as The Pavilion hair and beauty salon.

Regulars from the old Roebuck public house in Southwell Road, Norwich – now The Pavilion hair and beauty salon.

Regulars from the old Roebuck public house in Southwell Road, Norwich – now The Pavilion hair and beauty salon - on a Red Car day out to London. - Credit: Archant library

On the same side as the Morning Star was the Bold Napier which was also known at various times as the Napier Tavern, the Napier Arms and the Bowl and Napier.

It was closed under the compensation scheme in 1939.



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