The 2011 Evening News’ Pub of the Year is the Coach and Horses in Thorpe Rd

The Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road has been chosen as the Evening News' Pub of the Year for 2011. The pub received more than 130 nominations from customers, and reporter DAVID BALE found out why when he presented the winning shield to landlord Bob Cameron yesterday. The pub can now brand itself The Norwich Pub of the Year 2011.

Coach and Horses landlord Bob Cameron was up and about early yesterday morning. But it still came as a surprise to him when the Evening News phoned to tell him the good news that his pub had been named Pub of the Year 2011.

'That's great - I'm over the moon,' he said. 'I never expected that. I was pleased just to get in the top four.

'It's a nice accolade to have and we will now aim to improve our service. I'm very grateful to all the people who nominated the pub. I would also like to thank the brilliant staff we have.'

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Mr Cameron runs the pub alongside husband and wife David and Rose Blake, and all three have been working together at the pub since 1993.

Since that time the pub has picked up an impressive number of loyal customers. In fact, more than 130 people nominated it for the Pub of the Year Award.

Some of those loyal customers praised the pub for its great beer and food, friendly staff and its welcoming atmosphere, while others said it was a nice, relaxed place to come to at lunchtimes or at nights.

That pretty much sums up its appeal and when I visited I felt at home from the start, and wanted to stay a while.

I think that's why the pub picked up the award ahead of the other finalists.

As I said when I visited the pub last month, if you could bottle the atmosphere at the Coach and Horses and sell it, you would make a bomb.

There's something about it that is hard to define, but as soon as you enter, you recognise it.

It's just a place where you want to spend time in, whether quietly enjoying a good pint produced from the Chalk Hill Brewery behind the pub, where all the cask ales they sell come from, reading a newspaper on one of its spaced out seats or chatting to mates. People have a good time here and that's why they keep on coming back for more.

John Wake, who works nearby, said he was not surprised that the pub had won the award.

He said: 'I come in here at lunchtimes mainly but also at weekends. I'm a big sport fan, especially rugby, and when the rugby is on the TV here, it creates a great atmosphere. It's the next best thing to being at the event.'

His friend Robin Hubbard, who lives in Thorpe, did not have much choice other than to be a regular.

His father Brian and grandfather Bob were both customers at the pub, and the tradition was passed down to him.

He said: 'The beer is consistently good and they are really friendly staff, who always make you feel welcome. You also get a good cross-section of the community coming here.

'I think it's a very well-deserved pub of the year. I go to a few pubs - just for the comparison, understand - but I always keep coming back here.'

Chris Dawson only moved into the area a few weeks ago, but he has already made the pub his home from home.

He said: 'It's a bit of a downer having such a good pub near where you live, as it's too much of a temptation,' he said.

'I knew that this place is existed, but I'd never been in here before. But when I came in the first time, the staff made me feel so at home, I've been coming in ever since.'

Bob Amos travels to the pub from Thunder Lane, which means he has to pass by several other pubs to get there.

He said: 'I discovered it by accident but I like it so much I keep coming back. As I live in Thunder Lane, there are lots of pubs in between which I could go to, but it's worth coming that extra distance. I think the pub deserves to win the award.'

The staff also like working there.

Polly Cooke, who is one of the chefs in the kitchen where all the food is home-made, has been working there 11 years. She said: 'It's the nicest place to work and Bob is awesome to work with.'

As reported, hundreds of people in the greater Norwich area nominated their favourite pubs for the award, which we launched to follow up the Evening News' Love your Local campaign, which has been supporting pubs for more than two years.

Thirty-five different establishments got the nod and the other three finalists were the Fat Cat in West End Street, the Kings Arms in Hall Road and the Trafford Arms in Grove Road.

The awards were judged by Derek McDonald and the Evening News' Love Your Local reporter David Bale.

Mr McDonald, whose personal favourite was the Kings Arms, said: 'I think the competition has been a success and worth running, and has publicised some of the pubs that Norwich boasts.'

The Evening News has been urging customers to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign.

To see more stories from the campaign visit