Julian and I went on a little meander at the weekend to the London Tavern and the Griffin Hotel as part of our attempt to visit every pub in Norfolk and Suffolk. There aren’t many pubs left in the town centre of Attleborough, but I was merrily reading the story of the Bear pub which was located on Queens Road. The odd story of this pub’s demise was written about in the Diss Express on Friday 16 April 1999, although they were hopeful of finding a resolution at the time, when the owner Spring Inns announced they wanted to sell the building. Spring Inns had purchased the property from Pubmaster and they were one of the pub companies that was swept up by the larger pubcos, leaving a trail of destruction in their path, but I digress.
But the relevant part here is that the new landlady, Susan Dickerson, had been the landlady of her pub for just two days before Spring Inns announced their decision. That feels highly sub-optimal. She had been promised a two year lease and had left her job working on the checkout of one of the town’s supermarkets. She had thrown herself into her new pub, operating it on a community basis with three pool teams, a darts team and a bowling team. Dickerson was hopeful of a positive outcome as she clearly loved her pub, but it shut anyway and was turned into housing. It was a sad end to a pub that had been trading since the late eighteenth century and it looks like a traditional old building that would have been a credit to the town.
There are some other stories from the pub over the centuries, including from 1853 when a James Back and a William Barnes were drinking in the venue. They then thought it would be a marvellous idea to race two friends, John Anderson and a lad called Gooch, on their horse and cart and Back and Barnes were riding in a waggon without reins. This ended in disaster when there was a crash with Anderson dying and Gooch being seriously injured. The two drunken men were fined £1 each, but the Bear weren’t considered culpable in the whole arrangement. Numerous coroner courts and public auctions were also held at the Bear, a reminder of when pubs were very much part of their local community and their functioning. They still are to a large degree, but unfortunately there are far fewer of them.
Anyway, I’d like to know more about this pub and if anyone does have any recollections or photos, let me know at email@example.com.