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Ding! Ding! Move Along The Bus Please. #3

Quarantine has already resulted in posts on the Railway Tavern and the triple whammy which included the Parrakeet. House arrest continues with the third chapter in my virtual post-school bus ride from Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth to my then home in Gorleston. Chapter One has given us, amongst others, the Star & Garter and the most recent instalment took us across the river to meet the Bridge and the East Suffolk Taverns. The bygone boozers which feature in this third part of the journey were both to be found within the next 200 yards.

The first of them, the Bear Inn - not to be confused with the nearby Two Bears, which I've written about here - stood just two doors away from the East Suffolk. However, this was not always its home.

The Norfolk Pubs site informs us that there are records to show that in 1768 the Bear Inn was in the hands of one Samuel Dixon and that the Norfolk Chronicle of 29th March 1783 carried this entry:

"Yarmouth, March 17, 1783.

Henry Hawke respectfully begs Leave to inform the Nobility, Gentry, his Friends, and the Public in general, that he has taken that compleat Inn, The Bear, at the Front of Yarmouth Bridge, (late in the Occupation of Mr Thomas Parkerson) where he has laid in a choice Stock of Wines and Liquors. He solicits the Continuance of the Favours of those Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, who are Customers of the House, as well as those of his Friends; at the same Time he assures them that no Pains shall be spared to render their Accommodation agreeable.

N.B. The London Machine inns here."

Great Yarmouth was a significant port in Georgian times and there was demand for conveyance, both overland or by water, to other towns and cities around the country. The Coach Office was attached to the Bear, with the London service terminating at the Green Dragon in Bishopsgate - also now a bygone boozer. Pigot's Directory of 1830 informs us that Charles Browne is now keeping the Bear and that the Royal Mail and Telegraph departs for London every afternoon at five with the Star leaving every morning at seven. Both, it seems, "...go thro' Lowestoft, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Colchester & Chelmsford." No surprise there. I used to do that when I drove down the A12, as it was then, to the Smoke.

The Bear that I've been referring to up until this point is long gone. It stood at the foot of the old bridge over the River Yare, but in 1850 work was carried out in the port to both widen the river and construct a new river crossing. The Bear Inn was a casualty of this civil engineering project, being demolished in the name of progress. However, it wasn't the end of the Bear, for it migrated to a new house across the road.

The former Bear Inn Mk 2 in March 2019. © 2020 Google

The second incarnation of the Bear was to be found at, depending upon which source you are using, 8 Bridge Road or 8 Southtown Road. It seems that the two addresses were used interchangeably. Even today if you type either address into Google Maps Mr. Google will dump you at the same spot. The Bear continued to provide liquid refreshment from here until its doors closed for the final time in May 1940. The death of landlord of 23 years, John Cossey, in February of that year may well have played a part. The license did transfer to his widow, Elizabeth, and there may have been the intention for it to reopen after cessation of hostilities. But it didn't.

At some point after closure the building was split into two retail outlets. Exactly when I don't know, but it had occurred by the time I was taking this bus ride in the 1970s, as a china shop and a hairdresser were operating on the site.

A few doors further along, on the corner of Mill and Southtown Roads and not far from Yarmouth South Town Station, (yes, that's the spelling the railway used throughout the station's entire lifetime, even though the area of town was spelt as a single word) was the Railway Hotel. Well, that's what it was called in my day, although it did spend the last 30 years of its life known as the Rocket.

There seems to be a little confusion over the origins of this bygone boozer. The Norfolk Pubs website suggests that a Robert Hudson was in residence in 1854, presumably because he's listed in White's 1854 directory as being in the Railway Hotel on North Quay. North Quay is on the other side of the river and close to one of Yarmouth's other railway stations of the time, Yarmouth Vauxhall. South Town Station didn't open until 1859, so surely it wouldn't have been in need of a hotel five years before it was built. Yarmouth Vauxhall had already been welcoming trains for several years by the time that White's directory was published. That, and the fact that there is no mention of the pub in either the 1861 or the 1871 census suggests to me that Mr. Hudson wasn't in our Railway in 1854 and that it appeared sometime between the nosecounts of 1871 and 1881.

The earliest reference to it that I have been able to find is in White's Suffolk directory of 1874 (although it's in Norfolk now, the river formed the county boundary in those days) which lists a Henry Savory as a victualler at the Railway Hotel on Southtown Road. Three years earlier he'd been at the Steam Packet across the river, itself a bygone boozer, so perhaps he was the first landlord of the new pub.

Samuel Savory was at the Railway Hotel, 1903-11. Was he any relation to Henry?

The Railway had a close competitor - the aforementioned Two Bears. In fact it was too close for the town planners of the early twentieth century who felt that Love Lane, for that was the name by which Mill Road went in those days, needed to be widened. That deed was carried out in 1910 with the Two Bears being trimmed back a little in the process.

A Pre-1910 shot of Love Lane with the Two Bears (left) and the Railway.

The Railway, a Lacon's then Whitbread house for much of its existence, served its last pint in 2004 as the Rocket before being converted into retail outlets. At least it's still standing for the Two Bears, although lasting until the following year, has been flattened.

Mr. Google allows us to compare 'before' and 'after'.

March 2019 © 2020 Google

One of the former Two Bears' bears (Anna or Nelson?) looks down over Mill Road in July 2019 © 2020 Google

The quarantine countdown continues. Hopefully my next post might feature a bygone boozer that I've actually managed to pedal out to rather than one that just happens to have popped up in the memory. Performing hamster impressions on my indoor trainer when it's not raining or frosty is really starting to jade. If not, I'll probably have to resort to Part 4 of this virtual journey.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Like me, you must have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already you can 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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