Little Plumstead pub, the Brick Kilns has had just two landlords since 1931
Paul Anderson-Cowles celebrates 40 years since he reopened the Brick Kilns pub in Little Plumstead today.
Amazingly, his predecessor, Philip Colk ran the pub for nearly 40 years as well, from 1931 until it closed in 1969. Such long-serving landlords must be very rare in the country, let alone in Norfolk.
Mr Anderson-Cowles, 65, was just 24 when he first moved into the pub as a tenant, but he was 25 by the time the pub opened its doors following refurbishment on December 18, 1972. He has no idea why the pub has just had two landlords since 1931, but admits that 40 years ago he never imagined he would still be in charge in 2012.
“I never dreamed I would be still here, but it just happened. I don’t know why both myself and Philip Colk both spent about 40 years at the pub.”
When the pub opened in 1972, he was a tenant of Norwich Brewery, but he bought the freehold on the pub many years ago.
He added: “I cannot believe that 40 years have gone by, as it seems just like yesterday. I can remember exactly what I was doing 40 years ago, but struggle to remember what happened yesterday.
“On December 18, 1972 I went to Blofield court to get the pub’s licence. Jimmy Hipwell [later Norwich’s coroner] was the magistrates’ clerk then. If I had not got the licence I don’t know what we would have done.
“I remember the day was foggy and everything happened at the last minute. Someone flooded the carpet and my car’s windscreen washers broke and filled my shoe with water in the car.”
Mr Anderson-Cowles first ran the pub with his then partner, and he’s now married to Mary.
Born and bred in Norwich, he previously ran the Woolpack pub in Golden Ball Street for one year.
The newly reopened Brick Kilns was one of the first pubs in the countryside to do food as well as drink. He said: “In those days food always used to be in a basket, so you had sausage, scampi, etc. in a basket. The pub used to be so packed on a Sunday that you could not fall over.
“It was full of locals – mainly farm labourers who lived in the council houses nearby, so it was a proper local. We have gone a lot more upmarket since then, and are now a restaurant with a bar, instead of the other way round.”
Forty years ago supermarkets never sold drinks, so a lot of their business was in takeaway bottles of alcohol, he said.
“We sold quarter and half bottles of booze to take away. Before Christmas the hallways at the pub used to be filled with booze waiting to be collected. We also sold chocolate and sweets in boxes, so it was a bit like a confectionery shop. We don’t sell anything to take away now. Back then we used to have football matches on the paddock outside the pub between customers and staff. One time Kevin Keelan, then Norwich City goalkeeper, came and refereed.”
He said that during Mr Colk’s tenure, Sunday was ‘change the sand day’. “There was sand on the floor of the pub, and it was changed once a week. Philip used to say, ‘Why go to the beach when you’ve got sand here?’
“Obviously, during his time during the second world war, there were loads of Yanks stationed nearby who used the pub as their watering hole.
“Philip was also a dealer and he used to go to the market, so sometimes he would have piglets in the back of his car. He was also a sheep shearer. He lived in Honeycombe Road near the pub and would leave onions and sprouts from his garden hanging on the gate for me.”
The number of staff employed at the pub 40 years ago was in single figures, while it’s now about 50, part and full-time.
The selection of drinks on draught was also very different then and they now have accommodation for guests upstairs.
One thing that has not changed, though, is the presence of animals at the pub. He said: “Philip used to farm the land at the back of the pub. The pub was tiny then. He had pigs out the back and there were pet foxes in the pub. We still have lots of animals – horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and geese. About 95pc of our lunchtime customers stop to look at the animals in the paddock when they leave.”
He said he has no plans to retire and is looking forward to his 41st year in charge at the pub.
The Evening News is urging people to use their local pubs through its Love Your Local campaign. To read more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk
Is anyone celebrating 40 years or more at your pub or business? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org