13 May 2015, Coltishall: The glory days of a brewing village

On Wednesday 13 May 2015 the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust will host a talk on beer and on the businesses built around this staple drink in a Broads village 1700–1840.

Enjoy a glass of local beer at Margaret Bird’s illustrated talk ‘Here for the beer: Coltishall as a major brewing centre‘, to begin at 7.30 pm in Coltishall Village Hall, seven miles north-east of Norwich. Details of the venue and small admission charge are at the foot of the page. All are welcome.

A steam-powered brewery

Coltishall lines the north-eastern bank of the River Bure at what was from 1779  the downstream point of the Aylsham navigation (also known as the Bure navigation). A year later this village of under 600 persons had 11 maltings and three wholesale breweries: all the breweries had integrated maltings.

Coltishall, King's Head

The King’s Head at Coltishall was traded between three brewers in a 20-year period. Chapman Ives made it a leading inn hosting assemblies, balls and great county events

One ambitious brewer, Chapman Ives (1758–1804), lived at Coltishall Hall. He owned two breweries, greatly expanding the one he bought in 1787 beside the river and near what later became the Anchor Hotel. In 1790 he had 25 gentlemen to dinner inside his new cask for maturing porter (a full-bodied dark stout). Five years later he converted the brewery to steam, and with a capacity of 20,000 barrels of beer a year it was the largest in the region.

A rival to Lacons of Yarmouth

By 1820 a brewer at the other end of the village, Siday Hawes (1748–1827), was producing more than the famous firm of Lacons, of Great Yarmouth.

These village enterprises had large portfolios of tied houses across a radius of more than 20 miles from Coltishall. The local public houses were traded between brewers as fortunes rose and fell. They included the King’s Head and White Lion at Coltishall, the White Horse at Great Hautbois near the bridge, and Recruiting Sergeant at Horstead.

The diarist Mary Hardy, wife of one of the brewers, lived at Coltishall 1772–81 and tells us about the daily lives of everyone engaged in this demanding trade. The long-hours culture had arrived.

Finding the venue

The event will be held in Coltishall Village Hall, Rectory Road, Coltishall, NR12 7HF. The village lies between Norwich and North Walsham (on the B1150), and the turning into Rectory Road is opposite the parish church on the Hoveton and Wroxham road (the B1354).

The Village Hall, shown on the map, is on the edge of playing fields near the corner with Westbourne Road. It has ample parking space. The small admission charge will include a glass of local beer or a soft drink: £1 for Bure Navigation Conservation Trust members; £2 for visitors.

The talk is hosted by the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust, formed in 2012 to foster interest in the history and wildlife of this nine-mile stretch of canalised river to the market town of Aylsham. Its members also seek to improve public access along the footpaths bordering the waterway.

You can read more about this event, and about the Anchor at Coltishall, under Mary Hardy’s diary.