Pub of the week: The Wildman in Bedford Street, Norwich

If you are looking for a no-frills pub in Norwich city centre, you could do worse than try going to the Wild Man.

This pub is loved by regulars and passing trade alike for its simple, traditional style.

The landlady is Mandy Thwaites who has been at the pub for two years. When her husband Gordon died last year from cancer, her sons Matt and Andy agreed to help out, plus family friend John Kingsley.

Mrs Thwaites and her late husband previously ran the Boundary, The Hart at Costessey, the Heartsease, The Firs (now a Tesco supermarket) and The Forge in Norwich. They also ran pubs in Suffolk.

Mrs Thwaites said: 'I just love meeting people, and enjoy the socialising. I like the ethics of being a landlord/landlady at a pub, in that everybody cares about each other.

'It's like one of our customers, Kyle Lacey, who has epilepsy, said – we try to care for our customers and help them.

'I would love to have a darts and pool team based here to make it even more of a traditional pub, but we cannot because there's no parking. But there's a real diversity of people that come here.'

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The pub was given a makeover last year by owner Punch Taverns.

Although Mrs Thwaites has asked the pub company to replace their new sign with something more like the previous sign, she seems quite happy with the situation and is optimistic about the future of pubs.

'We seem to be ticking over. We have such a turnover of people so we don't have the same old boring regulars to talk to every day.

'We get a lot of passing trade. I think this will always be a visited pub. We offer karaoke, open mic nights on Thursday, which are very popular.

'And our jukebox is said to be the busiest in the city. Punch wanted to take out our old-style bar but Gordon said no.'

Her son Matt was previously a bingo caller, and roofer, but he was made unemployed.

He said: 'I'm here to do what I can and for the long haul.'

His brother Andy even plays guitar for pub customers.

And, she said, if you see a for sale sign outside, don't worry as it's just the building for sale, and it does not affect the licence at the pub.

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A licence to trade has been held at the pub since about 1760.

The pub gets its name from a boy who is said to have been found living wild in a German forest.

Brought to England at about 12 years of age and named Peter, he had by 1751 found himself an occupant of the Bridewell prison in Norwich, not far from where the pub stands.

His presence was reported following a fire at the prison on October 22, 1751.

The pub was previously named as being in St Andrews Hill in 1830 and 1845 and at Pottergate Street in 1854.

It was offered for sale by auction as advertised in the Norfolk Chronicle of November 6, 1844.

The pub received a makeover and a new sign last year.

And it is thought that it is not just the usual spirits to be found behind the bar – Ms Thwaites said: 'So much ends up going missing, that it must be haunted.'


Kyle Lacey, from Old Catton, said: 'This pub has always been good for me. I suffer from epilepsy and they have always looked after me in those situations. It's an amazing, drinking man's pub, and has such a friendly atmosphere. All walks of life come in here.'

Kurt Garner, from King Street, said: 'It's a proper drinkers' pub and a working man's pub. It's a proper people's pub.'

Oly Read, from Thorpe, said: 'Everybody is a friend in here. They have good music. I have been coming here on and off for 10 years now. I love the atmosphere. It's also good for my dog, Tilly, who is quite famous.'

Norman Davies, who lives locally, said: 'I know my pubs. I'm the ex-landlord at the Yeoman in Salhouse Road, the Plough in St Benedict's Street and the Cat and Fiddle in Magdalen Street. It's a friendly, happy pub. You don't get any grief in here. It's a traditional pub. The only thing you can get to eat in here is a packet of crisps, and that's the way people like it.'

Martin Baker, who lives off Oak Street, said: 'You always get some action here. I like the atmosphere. You always meet a lot of people from other places. I met somebody here the other day I had not seen in about 20 years. They have always got something going on here, with live music and other activities.'