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Pub of the week: The Champion in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 11:21 04 March 2011

Debbie and Natalie Pearce at The Champion

Debbie and Natalie Pearce at The Champion

Archant

Today, our 'Pub of the Week' feature focuses on The Champion in Chapel Field Road, just south of the city centre.

The History of The Champion

The pub is known to date back at least to about 1845.

It is named after a London Jew, Daniel Mendoza. He was an extraordinary fighter and became English champion, which was then equivalent to world champion, weighing 160lb, which is middleweight by modern standards.

He was acclaimed as the first scientific fighter and after he retired from the prize ring he toured theatres across the country, visiting Norwich in 1790.

In his act, which included no violence or indecency, he depicted the various heroic styles of great

boxers.

The great British comic actor Peter Sellers was also descended from Mr Mendoza.

The name of the pub was given as the Champion Stores in 1890. The pub was advertised as the

‘nearest Lacons House to the bus station’ in 1966.

In more recent days, in 2009 then landlords Jason Barker and his wife Nicola were subject to a

vicious attack by unruly customers who assaulted them when they were asked to leave.

Pubgoers love a family-run pub, according to Don and Debs Pearce, who took over The Champion last September.

The couple’s daughter Natalie is the bar manager and customers all agree that the three of them together are a good part of the reason they have made it their local.

Originally from Middlesbrough, the couple previously ran the Farmhouse in Colman Road, Norwich and the Dog in Horsford, and before that, they worked in the casino trade for about 20 years, finishing in London, before entering the pub industry in 2000.

Mr Pearce said both industries depended on building a good relationship with customers to make sure they returned.

He said: “You build up a rapport with your customers and find out how to handle people in both industries.

“The best thing about running a pub is watching the business grow. You feel you have achieved something if more people start using your pub. The trick is to try to be everyone’s best friend.”

“You are everybody’s agony aunt,” Mrs Pearce added.

“Pubs up and down the country are struggling but we are doing okay. We are hitting our targets and are here for the long haul.

“We ran other pubs in the area before coming here and some of the regulars from those pubs still visit us here, so we must be doing something right.”

The pub, which is famous for the many pictures on its wall depictings various champions through the ages, now has a pleasant outside seating area, which will be an added attraction when the warm weather arrives.

They serve seven real ales and a scrumpy, all on hand pull, and are taking part in the City of Ale festival, which runs from Thursday, May 26 until Sunday, June 5, and aims to make Norwich a Mecca for real ale lovers across the country.

“The City of Ale festival is a great idea and I’m sure all the pubs in Norwich will get behind it,” Mr Pearce said.

The Bateman’s Brewery-owned pub also does traditional Sunday lunches consisting of home-cooked food and is starting a monthly quiz every Wednesday monthly. They also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Evening News’ campaign Love your Local aims to get people back inside pubs. To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/ loveyourlocal.

Do you think your pub has the history, character and regulars to make it as our Pub of the Week? Call Evening News reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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