Norwich pub opens after revamp

Peter WalshThey say that a leopard never changes its spots, but one city pub named after the majestic big cat has changed its appearance as part of a major revamp.Peter Walsh

They say that a leopard never changes its spots, but one city pub named after the majestic big cat has changed its appearance as part of a major revamp.

The Leopard in Bull Close Road, Norwich, closed in September when Neil Gray called it quits after seven months at the helm of the Bateman's Brewery-owned pub.

But the pub, which has now reopened, has undergone a major refurbishment with a new bar, real fire place, traditional d�cor - and a lick of green paint.

Susan Dickerson, who has been running pubs in Norfolk for the past 25 years, is the new landlady and wants to turn it back into a successful community local.

She said: 'I want to make the Leopard a great real-ale community pub for locals, with its own cribbage and darts team, where you can enjoy traditional pub snacks, catch up with friends and relax.

'It's been picking up slowly. Some people have come in who have never been before and some people that used to come here are now coming back. Everyone that comes in says it's lovely and they like it.'

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Mrs Dickerson, whose previous experience as a landlady in Norwich includes spells at the Red Lion in St George's Street and the Beehive in Leopold Road, said the pub would be holding live music events at the pub, including a special St Patrick's Day folk night on March 20, to try and encourage more people through the doors.

The pub is also offering four real ales including one, Scary Bird, which is an affectionate nickname which handed down to Mrs Dickerson over the years.

She said: 'People know where they stand with me. I just don't put up with any nonsense - I've got a no nonsense attitude.'

The refurbishment of The Leopard fits in with the Evening News's Love Your Local campaign which has tried to encourage people to support their local pub.

Mrs Dickerson said she supported the campaign and hoped it would help get the message across. She said: 'I think the campaign is brilliant and its good that your doing it and making more people aware. It's a case of use it or lose it really as so many are closing.'

Stuart Bateman, managing director of Lincolnshire-based Batemans Brewery said: 'We wanted the licensee of the Leopard to be a cask ale champion, who was interested in selling a wide range of cask ales, as this would offer Susan's customers the best choice possible.

'This means that even though the Leopard is owned by Batemans, Susan will be free to choose the beers that she and her customers want.'

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