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A Pint of Porter and a Couple of Grand, Please.

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Or, Ding! Ding! Move Along The Bus Please. #8

The lingering lurgy continues. As mentioned in the recent post on Buxton's lost Eagle I've once again been laid low by some vicious virus. I haven't pedalled a bike, either indoors or out, for over a fortnight and although the trend seems to be towards recovery I still had to retire to bed once more on Wednesday, had to rest against the trolley whilst doing the supermarket shop on Thursday and Saturday night was another soak the night-clothes event. Still, as I say, the trend does seem to be towards normality and the lack of ability to do much else does provide the time to come up with more of this rubbish.

Having not ventured out I'm continuing on the virtual bus journey which began with the Star and the Star and Garter on Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth. If you've been travelling with me we had arrived where the two possible routes diverge, where the Halfway House used to stand, and have passed along Beccles Road to the site of the former White Horse. That's almost as far as my journey went if I'd caught a number 9 or 10 bus, as I'd alight at the next stop without passing any more pubs. Our virtual journey now continues as if I'd caught a number 8 and had passed the Greyhound on my right as I continued along High Road.

About a quarter of a mile from the traffic lights where the Greyhound used to offer its wares we come to the junction of Ferry Hill and High Road, and on the apex of this acute junction stood the subject of this post – the Barking Fishery.

The former Barking Fishery in 2017. © Google 2023

I don't know what it is about pubs that occupy this type of plot, but I just love them. Places like the Suffolk Tavern/New Entertainer in Gorleston or the Brunswick in Derby. Whatever it is about the nature of these places that makes them popular with me, the Barking Fishery's popularity wasn't sufficient to allow it to survive.

This bygone boozer didn't start its life as the Barking Fishery. The first record of it that I can find is in the 1851 census where it's trading as the Nelson Museum Hotel, and being run by Sarah Thrower who had previously been at the Guardian Angel, which was eventually demolished to make way for the aforementioned Halfway House.

Extract from the 1851 census.

Why the Nelson Museum Hotel? Well, it was situated close to the house of George Manby, the inventor of the Manby Mortar. Manby had an obsession with Lord Nelson and had turned the bulk of his house into a museum dedicated to his hero whilst he mainly lived in its cellar. He died in 1854 and his property was sold the following year. I presume that the new owner didn't particularly wish for a museum hero-worshiping the former admiral and so it disappeared as did the pub's name.

On to the next question. Why the Barking Fishery? As explained in this earlier post, the Short Blue herring fleet was originally from Barking, but from around the late 1850s started to base itself itself in Gorleston, and with the pub not a million miles from the quayside where the vessels moored it wasn't an unreasonable choice of name. (There are a couple of other pubs in the area which bear names linked to the fleet. Just a little further along the road from the Barking Fishery is the Short Blue. Whilst closed for several years from the mid-1970's it's now once again very much alive. In addition, across the river, on Great Yarmouth's Marine Parade, there is the Barking Smack.)

Returning to our subject, Sarah Thrower died early in 1861 and the pub isn't mentioned in the census of that year. The next time that I've found it popping up is in White's 1864 directory when one William George, who had been at the White Hart in Hopton three years earlier, is given as the licensee.

Extract from White's 1864 directory.

William's time at the Barking Fishery wasn't without incident, for the pub gets numerous mentions in this document.

It seems that there'd been a little bit of naughtiness going on in the borough at both the 1859 and 1865 General Elections, and that this had come to the notice of the powers that be. Numerous people's testimonies were taken whilst under oath and here are a few.

This one's from Thomas Betts, who lived on High Road, and popped into the Barking Fishery for a pot of porter and the odd bung of £20.

And don't you just have to love Henry King? "I heard that they were giving money away, and I went there and got it."

And here is William's own testimony.

It seems that William was quite happy to takes a bribe from both sides. To put things into perspective, £20 in 1865 would be the equivalent of around £2000 in 2023 and it seems like there had been a budget of £6,000, around £600,000 in today's money, to buy votes in the borough. And that's just the figure for one of the sides in the election.

This type of activity wasn't just limited to Great Yarmouth. The outcome of all these shenanigans was the 1867 Reform Act which, amongst other things, removed the right for the borough of Great Yarmouth to send representatives to Parliament. The constituencies of Lancaster, Reigate and Totnes received similar punishment. Yarmouth, along with its three fellow offenders, was without direct representation at Westminster until 1885.

Let's move on a century from William's day. It's now 1964 and the sign in the window informs us that the Barking Fishery is under new management.

Under new management in 1964.

Dick and Wendy Andrew have moved in with their family.

Dick and Wendy Andrew in the Barking Fishery, along with Lacon's Mild and Bitter.

Shortly after their arrival, Lacon's was taken over by Whitbread, and their Yarmouth brews were replaced by Whitbread's national brands.

Post-'65 Whitbread takeover. Pulling Titbread Wankard.

It's not even a quarter past nine. Time for another, Dick.

Edit:- Shortly after publishing this post I heard from John Twitchett, amongst others, who informed me that it's his dad, Walter, on the left, then Ernie Smith and Jimmy Dawe on the right.

Moving on again and it's the summer of 1979. Dick and Wendy have moved back to north Wales, the Barking Fishery has been closed for eight years, and I'm sat in its former bar drinking wine. Hirondelle. You were unlikely to get a duff bottle, you understand. Or at least that's what the adverts would have you believe. And all for the princely sum of £1.39. Having been converted into flats, a drinking companion of mine of the time was now living in one. She, who after the White Lion experience and the Johnnie Walker, suggested sitting on the cliffs and waiting for the sun to rise. Time has moved on further still, and so has she. I last heard that she was living in the Beccles area.

Time continues to flow. It's nearly a week since I started producing this post and I've now managed a short pedal. OK, it was only twenty minutes of gentle spinning through the Las Vegas night without leaving the cellar, but I haven't died.

And whilst the fourth dimension continues on its infinite journey I've still five months to work up to riding for two hours at race pace for the first time since 2017. Some say that I'm barking mad to try, but whether you're in Vegas or not, I wouldn't bet against it happening.

Edit: Thanks to Dominic Austrin for reminding me of the weather vane that used to grace the pub. Dating from around 1882, and depicting a fishing vessel presumably from the Short Blue fleet, it was identical to the one that topped Great Yarmouth's Town Hall. It disappeared from the former pub a decade or so ago. The one the Town Hall remains in place.

Many thanks to Deborah Owen for the use of her family photos. Robin Webster's image is copyright and is reused under this licence.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Possibly, like me, you may have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. Clicking here will take you to a searchable/sortable index which you can use to see if I've already featured any lost locals from your locality. You can also subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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