Thetford – Good Woman Public House

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This building at 51/53 Old Market Street in Thetford was once the Good Woman public house from the mid-nineteenth century to 1909 when it lost its license. The pub was owned by Greene King and today the building is residential and is Grade II listed. The core of the building dates to the sixteenth century, with many later additions. The section of the property on the right of the photo was formerly an outhouse and has now been turned into a garage.

But, back to the license issue. The beginning of the twentieth century was when the Government decided that there were too many pubs in the UK, so they decided to shut down thousands of them by making it easier to end their licenses. The Good Woman was one of the pubs that was closed, with the Government having to pay compensation to the brewery.

The compensation payable to the Good Woman public house was contested by Greene King and their managing director of the time, EW Lake, went to the Norfolk Licensing Committee to state his case. Greene King wanted £702 3s 6d because in the previous years they had been selling an average of 86.5 barrels and 486 dozen of bottled beers. The tenant of the pub, John Clarke, thought that he should get more than the 10% usually payable to him, and the committee agreed to that, meaning he would get £85 of the £702 3s 6d.

Incidentally, this is a ridiculous sum of money in compensation, especially given how many pubs were refused licenses. In today’s money that’s around £55,000 and the tenant received the equivalent of £6,700. Much of this money was recovered by charging the remaining pubs more in taxation, with the intention being to close around 35,000 pubs across the country from the 100,000 that existed in 1900.

This was the last census that took place when the building was in use as a pub, in 1901. At that time the licensee was Charles John Pear and he also worked as a house painter. The only other occupant in the pub was his wife Adelaide. By 1911, he was working as a plumber and had moved to Norwich, living at 42 Trafalgar Street in the city.