Trafford Arms in Norwich is this week’s Pub of the Week

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 February 2011

The Trafford Arms, Pub of the Week.

Photo: Denise Bradley

The Trafford Arms, Pub of the Week. Photo: Denise Bradley

Archant © 2011

As community locals go, they don’t come much better than the Trafford Arms, which is a watering hole blessed with everything real ale drinkers love.

History of the Trafford Arms

A previous pub on the site called the Nursery Tavern dates back to 1867.

The licensee, Robert Allen, was also a florist and a market gardener.

A new building on adjoining land was built and called the Trafford Arms, and it was owned by Steward and Patteson.

The Nursery Tavern was pulled down.

In March 1895, a three-hour cyclone blew two large chimney stacks through the roof of the pub

It was damaged by bombing during the Second World War on May 27, 1942.

And then it was severely damaged by enemy action in June 1942. S&P records state ‘Blitzed 23.06.1942, quite burnt out’.

Trading recommenced on July 15, 1943 from a temporary wooden hut, which was always known as the Chicken House.

Later, the Chicken House was pulled down and the wing fronting on Trafford Road, which became the lounge, was built.

Finally the two halves were joined, but they were not evenly matched, and it is still possible to see where the join had to be fudged, if you look at the roof.

The pub was bought by Watney Mann, soon to become part of Grand Met, in 1967.

Chris and Glynis Higgins took it over in the 1990s and transformed it into a freehouse cask beer oasis.

That includes great beer and food, a superb atmosphere and welcoming hosts who are always ready with a smile and are genuinely interested in their customers.

As landlord Chris Higgins says, the great British pub is one of the last remaining social spaces where people can go for a chat and enjoy a drink in good company and in a pleasant environment.

Mr Higgins said: “The pub has always been the hub of the community and the best place for enjoying a pint.

“We always get a bad press for binge drinking, but this is the best place for drinking as it’s a well regulated environment where sensible and safe drinking is encouraged.

The Trafford Arms, Pub of the Week.; Jean Doggett.; Photo: Denise Bradley

“Binge drinking is all about people buying cheap drink from supermarkets and off-licences, and not people drinking in pubs.”

Chris and Glynis Higgins took over the pub nearly two decades ago.

Mr Higgins, who is originally from Macclesfield in Cheshire, had previously run the Horse and Dray in Ber Street in Norwich city centre – now closed – for five years. Prior to that he spent time in Southwold, Suffolk and about 14 years in the hotel trade in the north-west of England.

He said he still loved being a publican.

The Trafford Arms the day after it was bombed in 1942

“I love the business. You get a very warm feeling when you are able to make lives richer,” he added.

During the couple’s time at the pub, they have raised thousands of pounds for charity and once invited guests to guess how many coins were stuck on the pub’s walls.

At the time of the tsunami disaster of 2004, in conjunction with Bennett’s electrical, they raised £11,000 for the appeal.

But they are not resting on their laurels. Plans for the future include more perks for regulars and, hopefully, a huge Norwich City promotion party.

The pub is also heavily involved 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.

Mr Higgins praised The Evening News’ campaign Love your Local, which aims to get people back inside pubs.

He said: “The Evening News’ Love Your Local campaign has been brilliant in keeping pubs at the forefront of people’s minds.”

To see more stories from the campaign visit

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

What the regulars say:

Jean Doggett, from Trafalgar Street, said: “Lovely people work in the pub and they really look after you. We get on really well with them.”

Donald Doggett, from Trafalgar Street, said “It’s a well-organised pub. A lot of our friends come here. The landlord always asks how you are. It’s a friendly atmosphere and everyone makes you welcome.”

David Clarke, from Poringland, has known Chris Higgins for a long time, and said he was one of the first regulars.

He said: “Excellent beer, good food and a nice ambience, and you always get a cross-section of the public in.”

Mike Smith, from Gordon Square, has been coming to the pub for about 20 years.

He said: “They have always got really good ales. Good company and lots of friends come in from work. You never get any bother in here; it’s nice to come in and socialise. They’ve also got nice staff.”

Charlie Purkiss, from nearby Eaton Rise, said: “I like the good beer and food. It’s a nice, friendly atmosphere, and somewhere where we always enjoy coming to.”

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