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Boiled beef and stewed plums - 1950s Norwich café menu discovered as shop renovated

PUBLISHED: 11:42 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:24 06 March 2020

Danielle Sheehan, owner of Mae Cosmetics, with the old menu from the Cloverleaf Café found in the floorboards of her premises in St Gregory's Alley during renovation.  Picture: Denise Bradley

Danielle Sheehan, owner of Mae Cosmetics, with the old menu from the Cloverleaf Café found in the floorboards of her premises in St Gregory's Alley during renovation. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

A discovery during the renovation of a Norwich building has revived memories of a former city café and offers a taste of the past.

The old menu from the Cloverleaf Café found in the floorboards of Mae Cosmetics premises in St Gregory's Alley during renovation.  Picture: Denise BradleyThe old menu from the Cloverleaf Café found in the floorboards of Mae Cosmetics premises in St Gregory's Alley during renovation. Picture: Denise Bradley

Boiled beef and stewed plums and custard are among the dishes on a forgotten menu from the Cloverleaf Café that was unearthed by workers clearing the upper floors at Mae Cosmetics in St Gregory's Alley.

Danielle Sheehan, director and lead technician, said: "We were relaying the floor and as we took the old one up we found it.

Opening of the Cloverleaf Cafe in St Giles Street, Norwich, on January 5 1938. Some of the first customers are the performers at the Hippodrome Theatre. Picture: Mary BlathwaytOpening of the Cloverleaf Cafe in St Giles Street, Norwich, on January 5 1938. Some of the first customers are the performers at the Hippodrome Theatre. Picture: Mary Blathwayt

"I just think it is such an interesting thing to find because it offers a look back to those times. It says Monday's menu and it has things like steak pie, semolina pudding and jam, stewed plums and custard. It is really old type food.

"I'm vegetarian myself so I don't think there is too much on there that would appeal to me, perhaps just the chips. I don't think they really catered for vegetarians back then."

Cloverleaf Cafe when it opened its doors in1938. The lady behind the counter nearest to the camera is manageress Gwenneth Plummer who became a partner and part-owned it until the 1970s. Picture: Mary BlathwaytCloverleaf Cafe when it opened its doors in1938. The lady behind the counter nearest to the camera is manageress Gwenneth Plummer who became a partner and part-owned it until the 1970s. Picture: Mary Blathwayt

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The Cloverleaf Café was initially opened as a milk bar on St Giles in 1938 by Herbert Scott, affectionately known as Scotty, who was later joined by manageress Gwenneth Cole and her sister Audrey Everett.

Its proximity to the Norwich Hippodrome made it a popular hang-out for performers.

What was left of the Cloverleaf Cafe after it was damaged by a bomb on April 30 1942, and the same location today. Pictures: Mary Blathwayt/Denise BradleyWhat was left of the Cloverleaf Cafe after it was damaged by a bomb on April 30 1942, and the same location today. Pictures: Mary Blathwayt/Denise Bradley

The menu is now being donated to Mrs Cole's daughter Mary Blathwayt, who still lives in Easton.

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She said: "I think it probably dates from the 1950s when they used to have these meal deals. I can remember that.

"I spent all my school holidays there. I was the world's worst waitress for some time. I also used to make cakes and sell them for extra pocket money."

Upstairs restaurant in the Cloverleaf Cafe in 1946 at new permanent premises in Dove Street, Norwich. Picture: Mary BlathwaytUpstairs restaurant in the Cloverleaf Cafe in 1946 at new permanent premises in Dove Street, Norwich. Picture: Mary Blathwayt

Mr Scott, who was her godfather, had set up the Cloverleaf to take advantage of a government scheme to encourage milk bars.

"I think he saw an opportunity but then he realised he had no expertise to run it, so he employed my mother as the manageress," she recalled. "It was a really happy place. It was quite hard work but the staff stayed for years."

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The café was initially in the former premises of The Raven pub but after the building was destroyed by a bomb during the Norwich Blitz it moved further up St Giles, before in 1946 moving to Dove Street.

When Mr Scott retired in 1960 the sisters took over and ran it until it closed in 1973.

Mrs Blathwayt said: "At that point there were a lot of restaurants and wine bars in the city that had licences and the Cloverleaf just wasn't that sort of place, and by that time they were too old to change really so they had to sell up."

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