Watering holes

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Watering Holes

Watering holes as public houses were frequently called came via two distinct routes one being the provision of facilities for refreshments on a known thoroughfare much in the same way as coaching inns had done over the centuries. These establishments had provided for the needs of horse-drawn transport as well as the likes of drovers and itinerant workers. In many cases they were an integral part of the transport system as many adverts state various public houses as stopping points on carriers routes between country districts and Norwich.

The other type of public house came about to supply the needs of the local workforce. With much of labouring work being very physical the quenching of thirst was a simple fact of life and one should always bear in mind frequently local water sources could be of a rather indifferent nature. Not the least of these concerns were the waterborne bacteria frequently found in un-boiled water and the process of beer and ale making by boiling removed any such bacteria. Without doubt the effects of the alcohol however made many areas of Sprowston far from genteel, as stated in one report, "the police would only go out in twos."

Many of these drinking places for the working man did not have a full licence instead being granted only a "beer license" which made the sale of both wine and spirits illegal. For many drinking places during the late 19th and early 20th century this was quite an acceptable state of affairs as it fulfilled the role for which the premises were intended for the working man. The ownership of these premises bears scrutiny as they were frequently sited next to the owners brick fields. A case of - yes work for me and earn some money and then come into my ale house and spend it.

As the 20th century progressed the role of the public house within the community changed considerably coming almost to be like a local community club with such things as darts, dominoes and sometimes bowling facilities as well as fishing clubs, cricket and football teams something the old spit and sawdust ale houses could not compete with. The brewers and licensees soon began changing things to accommodate this new aspect connected with public houses. In many cases such as the Blue Boar, Brickakers, George and Dragon had new premises built more in keeping with the public's aspirations. The housing development was also to bring about the development of completely new licensed premises such as the Duke of Norfolk then as housing development continued the Beehive, Yeoman and Viking.

Public tastes always change and public houses were to change in the late 20th and early 21st century beyond all recognition. The social structure of the community changed and with it what public houses provided in many cases became irrelevant and this new way of life caused many of Sprowston's public houses to close through lack of patronage rising Phoenix like in some other guise such as an eating place, shop, business premises or simply demolished and housing built on the area.