Full Circle.

Updated: Feb 6

Despite the seemingly obvious evidence to the contrary it can take me quite a while to produce one of these posts. In reality the time taken varies. Yes, there is the time needed to do a bit of research but what often takes the longest is working up some sort of enthusiasm to get going; the requirement for a particular stimulus to start me off. It could be something which brings back a memory or sparks an interest in a particular pub of the past. It might be a visit to a town or village that I've never visited before, something there hasn't been too much of in the last couple of years. Possibly a return to a familiar haunt from the past to discover the demise of a drinking den might get me thinking or maybe I simply get hold of an interesting old photograph or come across a pub with an unusual or interesting name. The stimulus for this post didn't take long in arriving. It came with the stimulus for the last.


That last post contained a number of interior shots of the lost Globe Inn in Blofield, which were provided by Katie Nichols. Evidence that at least some people do read this nonsense. This post carries on where the last one left off with some more interior shots from Katie, as well as one taken outside. This time it's images of The Compasses, a bygone boozer which used to sell its wares from 4 Upper King Street in Norwich. Quite what the occasions were which were caught in the first two photographs I don't know but they give a feel for the place.






If I've no idea about the first two photographs I do know something about the third. It shows Katie's grandfather, Leslie Dix, who was landlord from the 1950s to the 1970s. I have to say that that is a very fine moustache. I might try growing one of those myself when I finally reach puberty.


Leslie Dix behind the bar of The Compasses.

Leslie might well have been in the Compasses for a couple of decades, but the pub was in existence a couple of centuries earlier. Whilst the earliest that I've managed to go back to is 1822 when Pigot's directory of Norfolk, Leicestershire & Rutland plus Peterbrough and Wisbech – that's quite a bit of the country – has a J. Woollard there...



Extract from Pigot's 1822 directory.

...and by 1830 they've found out his Christian name.


Extract from Pigot's 1830 directory.

However, it seems that an Amy Roper was trading in the Compasses as early as the 1760s and around that time it may well have gone by the name of the Goat and Compasses. If so, the goat went for a walk at some point for I can find no reference to it by that name in the nineteenth century or later.


So no goat, but just how many compasses there were seemed to change from time to time, swinging from three to a solitary example and back again. In 1839 there were three...


Extract from Pigot's 1839 directory.

...but just the one in 1856...


Extract from Craven's 1856 Commercial Directory.

...and a couple had been reacquired by 1869...


Extract from the 1869 Post Office Directory.

...and lost again by 1877.


Extract from Harrod's 1877 directory.

Checking later directories suggested that this was the final name change. Additionally, all this directory digging threw up a Beer in 1916...



...and a Blogg in 1933 which somehow seems rather appropriate.



During the first part of Leslie's tenure the house would've been one of local brewer Steward & Patteson's and then following their take over by Watney's in 1963 would've supplied punters with the locally brewed Norwich Bitter and Mild along with, no doubt, Red Barrel and possibly the even worse Starlight.


A couple of well-turned-out S&P employees outside the Compasses with their driver in tow.

The Compasses remained a Watney's pub until it closed in the autumn of 1984...



The Compasses in 1983.

...and the building was converted into offices for an estate agent. A role which it continues to fulfil today.


It's not just the road that's closed! The former Compasses in Norwich in April 2021. © Google 2022.

Oh! Before I go, Katie also provided this other interior shot. It shows John Edrich, one of my childhood sporting heroes, in the pub and about to draw the winning ticket in a raffle for an autographed bat. With that, Katie's photograph has enabled the Compasses to draw a full circle to navigate us back to the Globe, which at one time known to the locals as the Edrich Arms. If you don't know why, and haven't taken the opportunity to click on the earlier link, here's another chance to educate yourself.




Thanks again to Katie Nichols for the photos. The information about the pub's early history, and the 1983 image, came from the Norfolk Pubs website.


Edit 6th February 2022


Thanks to Martin who forwarded to me these images of the old pub sign from the archives of the Inn Sign Society. The black and white one dates from January 1966 when Leslie was there and the colour one from around 1980.









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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