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Three cheers for the brewery workers

PUBLISHED: 15:07 08 June 2012

Former brewery workers reunited at Arkwrights to remember their work days.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Former brewery workers reunited at Arkwrights to remember their work days. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

It should have been the last get together for the men and women who worked in the big Norwich breweries. They had such a good time - they are going to do it all again next year.

Raise your glasses and join me in a toast... to the brewery workers of Norwich. Proud members of one of the last great city industries.

Many of the men and women who gathered for a reunion at Arkwrights, off Hall Road, had worked at the Norwich Brewery in King Street, which stopped brewing in 1985 with the loss of about 160 jobs.

Watneys had pulled the plug on the last of the big city breweries. It really was the end of an era.

“We had thought that this would be the last reunion,” said Richard Little, who spent a lifetime working in the Norwich breweries.

“Many people read about it on your page in the Evening News. They came along and everyone enjoyed themselves so much that they want another one next year,” said Richard.

Men and women from most of the different departments in the brewery turned up to discover what their friends and colleagues had been up to. “We had a really good time with people of all ages arriving to see old friends. Some people hadn’t seen each other for a long time,” added Richard.

There was a special bond between the brewery workers of Norwich. It was a trade which played a leading role in the development of the city for hundreds of years.

The beer barons from the big breweries, such as Steward & Patteson, Bullards, Morgans, Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs, were powerful people who employed thousands of people.

Eventually the names disappeared as various mergers and takeovers took place.

Watneys emerged but then closed – the days of the big breweries were over.

Today, a number of small breweries carry on this fine Norfolk tradition – and produce some excellent ales.

Watch this space for news of the next reunion.

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