‘The drinking scene has changed’ - The Rumsey Wells landlords celebrate 10th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 15:20 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:58 08 October 2018

L-R Katie Searle, Danny Searle, Anthony Smith and Adam Kingston Credit: Louisa Baldwin

L-R Katie Searle, Danny Searle, Anthony Smith and Adam Kingston Credit: Louisa Baldwin


The landlords of a popular Norwich pub which is celebrating its tenth year have told of their sadness at seeing other watering holes fall by the wayside.

The Rumsey Wells, located in St Andrews Street, opened in 2008 in the former home of St Andrew’s Tavern with the aim to create a space where younger people could go to.

At the time, there were mainly traditional pubs around the city, with the exception of newly-opened Franks Bar, the Norwich Playhouse and The Birdcage.

Brother and sister duo Danny and Katie Searle wanted to create somewhere ‘they wanted to go and drink’ and opened as an Adnams pub, with its brewery based in Southwold, and has remained with them for the last ten years.

The pub was named after Herbert Rumsey Wells who used to own a milliners shop in the building and his ‘doggie’ hats, a floppy hat which looks like a large flat cap, was famous across the world and a plaque outside the shop commemorates him.

Mr Searle said: “The pub was born out of us both working in hospitality and we both came together realising we wanted to run our own business as we both have different skills.

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“In 2008 there wasn’t a huge amount of places we wanted to go and drink and Norwich was full of traditional pubs which is great but we wanted to offer the younger drinker somewhere to go.

“It’s been an organic evolution over the years and things have meandered in different ways so we always set out to do a good level of product and really good drinks.

“The Norwich drinking scene has changed almost beyond recognition but we have remained dedicated to the art of good drinking.”

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Miss Searle added: “We work well together as Dan does the creative and marketing side and likes his music and I’m practical and like numbers and organisation so do a lot of the back of house work.

Herbert Rumsey Wells' cap shop in NorwichHerbert Rumsey Wells' cap shop in Norwich

“The main thing is giving people a reason to leave the house and making sure everyone feel comfortable.”

The pair also owned the Reindeer pub in Dereham Road until January but decided to sell up and it has since re-opened under new landlady Lou Wilding who also runs The Wildman on Bedford Street.

With landlords at The Garden House, Brickmakers, Gibraltar Gardens and The York Tavern, all owned by the Ei Publican partnership, set to step down over lease talks, the pair are ‘gutted’ to see them go.

Mr Searle said: “It’s really sad as we know how much hard work it takes to get pubs off the ground and keep things going.

“They are all from what I gather Enterprise Inns and we made a conscious decision when we took on a venture to not work with a big pub co and chose Adnams because they are a family brewer and we hoped they would always care about pub culture.

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“I’m gutted for them and it will leave some big gaps in the scene – The Brickmakers for live music, The York has got the Golden Triangle community feel, it’s a real shame.”

Miss Searle added: “You put so much work and effort into a pub and then to not be able to carry on because of an increase in rent – if it happened here I’d be devastated.”

To celebrate 10 years of the Rumsey Wells, Dan and Kate are holding a party this Saturday, September 29 from 3pm with DJs, live music and food from Figbar, Pieminster and Caribbean food from Coral Bay.


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