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The days of the Fat Man and Bullards Brewery

PUBLISHED: 13:26 05 December 2012 | UPDATED: 13:36 05 December 2012

The Fat Man of Bullards

The Fat Man of Bullards

Archant

A new book knocks on the Bullards door in Norwich and takes a look at many more lost breweries

<DJ beer book>

He looks, according to author Chris Arnot, as though he just might have been the man, the very fat man, who watered the workers’ beer.

There he is standing in the doorway of a pub, one hand on a substantial hip, the other grasping what we are led to believe is either a Bullard’s Old Winter Warmer or another of the Norwich company’s nourishing ales or stouts.

The story of the Bullards brewery is among those told in a new book, Britain’s Lost Breweries and Beer, looking at 30 famous homes of beer that have brewed their last pint.

It is an elegy for a lost age when a pint was pulled in the shadow of its brewery. It was a time when the brewery was at the heart of the community - providing work for hundreds of men and women.

The Bullards Fat Man was a little piece of magical artwork from the brush of a young Alfred Munnings - before he went on to become one of the best loved artists.

“He was on holiday at the time. The Fat Man was simply a doodle sent as a postcard to a close friend in the Bullard family in 1909,” writes Chris.

“The recipient liked it so much that it became the company’s advertising logo until the brewery was closed by Watney Mann almost sixty years later.

Over the years the much-loved Fat Man became a symbol of good Norfolk ale - welcoming both regulars and visitors to Bullards pubs across the city and county.

As Chris points out: “This book is not a dewy-eyed plea for the return to the ‘good old days’ of 35 or 40 years ago.

“What it is, I hope, is a bit of social history, a collection of warm, sometimes funny reminiscences that illuminate that most distant of times, the day before yesterday, when breweries provided employment for large numbers of people and their beers helped to define the towns and cities where they were brewed,” he says.

“By the mid-1970s, that comparatively cosy world was already beginning to unravel. The number of breweries in England alone had declined from 1,324 in 1900 to 141 by 1975,” he adds.

Chris tells the story of one of the big Norwich breweries, Bullards, and how it, along with others such as Steward & Patteson, Young’s Crawshay and Youngs, Morgans and others played a leading role in city life.

Bullards closed its Anchor Brewery in the late 1960s but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the landmark chimney came tumbling down.

<t> Britain’s Lost Breweries and Beers by Chris Arnot is published by Aurim Press at £25. It is well written, well researched and has some great pictures.

<t> Most missed product:

Bullard’s Mild.

Least-missed

Watney’s Starlight.

It was, according to a Sunday Mirror investigation in 1971, a beer so insipid that it could have been sold legally under prohibition in the United States.

I remember it well.

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