Public meeting held on 10th February.

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More than 130 local residents attended a presentation held by the George Community Pub team on the afternoon of Saturday 10th February. The purpose of the presentation was to bring everyone up-to-date with the work that had been carried out in determining the future of the George as a community Pub.

Chairman Colin Owens led the presentation and introduced two ‘special guests’ who happen to be supporters of community pubs. They were Suffolk County Councillor Alexander Nicoll and Terry Baxter of BBC Radio Suffolk fame.

The presentation was given by members of the committee, each an expert in their own field of Finance, Heritage, Business Planning and Project Management. The team presented a summary of the committee’s work which included an agreement with the current owner to purchase the George Pub for a sum of £40,000.

The committee announced that the Community Share issue will be launched on 16th March 2018 and that if anyone would like to receive a paper copy they could request one by emailing shares.wmgeorge@btconnect.com giving a postal address.

The share target would be £300,000 and the remaining £1.3m will be raised through grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant bodies. The conclusion was very clear that the George could be bought, restored and made into a viable business once again and the whole process will take around 2-3 years before the doors open once again.

Following the presentation Councillor Alexander Nichol was invited to address the audience. He thanked the committee for their hard work in producing such a comprehensive report. He also said that Community Pubs had a special feel and atmosphere and he regularly visited the Sorrel Horse at Shottisham. It was easy for him to recommend Community Pubs and wished The George every success – he would definitely be a future shareholder!

Terry Baxter led the Question and answer session but ultimately he asked a question of the audience. Would they like to see a pub in the village again? Overwhelmingly the answer was yes.

Details from the feasibility study would now be incorporated into a comprehensive Business Plan to be presented alongside the Share Prospectus. Both documents will be made available on our web site in the next few weeks.

Copies of the slides used in the presentation at the meeting are available here – Presentation slides

An article about the meeting also appeared in the EADT. Click on the link to see the article – EADT Article

George Quiz night – Friday 23rd March

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The George Quiz Night
Gather your team, and join us on
Friday 23rd March in Wickham Market Village Hall.
6.30pm for 7pm

Tickets £10 per person, including a Fish and Chip Supper
from the Flaming Fryer
Choice of meals include Cod & Chips, Chicken & Chips,
Sausage & Chips and Veggie Burger & Chips.

Bar will be available

Teams of 4 or 6 persons

Register your team by 16th March by contacting

Jacky on 07803 907187 / Sophie on 07877 477089
or email events.wmgeorge@gmail.com

Tickets will also be available from the Teapot Cafe in Wickham Market

We look forward to seeing you there!

Public Meeting on 10th February

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Do you want answers to the following questions?

  1. Can we buy the Pub, and if so what will we be paying?
  2. Can we rebuild the pub and how much will it cost?
  3. Where will the money come from?
  4. Why does heritage and conservation matter?
  5. What do we need Community Shares for?
  6. What will the Pub do for the community?
  7. When will the Pub be open for business and will it be profitable?
  8. Who will run the Pub?
  9. What can I do to help make it happen?

If so then come to the public meeting on 10th February.

The George bygone – February

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February seems to be a bit of a ‘slow’ news month for the George in the past. Obviously, though, it is a big month for the ‘New’ George with the public meeting to present our Feasibility Study Results on the 10th from 3.30 pm (see blog for more details). We do, however, have another one of Robert Adam’s typically terse advertisements (see The George bygone – January) from the Suffolk Chronicle in February 1857, soon after he took over the pub; this time for a ‘sporting’ challenge.

Livestock prizes were quite common at all sorts of village events and were, perhaps, a forerunner of pub ‘meat raffles’. This also suggests that the 3-ish acres of arable land, traditionally let with The George, was still attached at this date for the match to take place over.

Given our aims, it was amazing to find the following article recently (from the Suffolk Chronicle of December 13th, 1845).

The Public Room cost £200 to build, this might be as much as c £685,000 in today’s money (there are various ways of calculating price equivalents). Once built, as stated, it was used by both public bodies and social and recreational groups. It later became the Foresters Hall and now carries on as the British Legion Club. We think our “unanimity and good feeling” has survived the long Feasibility Study process, as we will demonstrate on the 10th, particularly at the ‘Pop-up George’ after the meeting.

If you have any historical facts, memories, photographs of The George, or characters associated with the pub or groups that used it you wish to share, contact us by e-mail at heritage.wmgeorge@btconnect.com.

The George bygone – January

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A Happy New Year to all our readers.

In January 1859, Robert Adams, landlord of The George since about 1857, was hoping to drum up more business in the New Year by advertising, tersely, in both the East Suffolk Mercury and Lowestoft Weekly News.

One has to wonder about his order of priorities, though!

We hope that you are not having to deal with any consequences of your Christmas celebrations like those suggested by this Woodbridge Court sessions report, from the 6th January 1849 in the Suffolk Chronicle, on ‘goings-on’ at The Chequers:

To be charitable, perhaps the witness was still feeling the after-effects when testifying.

The George bygone – December

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Last month we reported that The George had been sold by the Stonham Brewery when the brewery closed down in 1866. It is not certain when the brewery acquired the pub, but it had been previously put up for auction in December 1838, when the Woodbridge Brewery (in Stone Street, which is now Church Street) and its pub estate were sold following the death of its owner, Samuel Alexander,  in May of that year. The results of the sale were reported in Suffolk Chronicle on December 8th.

Alexander was a member of a prominent family of ship owners in the corn and iron trades who had also opened a bank, Alexander & Co., in 1744 at Needham Market. The Ipswich branch became the Head Office in 1804. Samuel had been an Alderman of Ipswich and Commissioner on the Ipswich Pilot Commission and, when his body was taken to Needham Market for burial in The Friends Burial Ground, the Suffolk Chronicle reported that, his “… hearse was preceded by about 80 gentlemen of Ipswich, headed by the Mayor and Magistrates, who walked two and two from the churchyard of St. Mary Stoke, through St. Peter’s, St. Nicholas’ and St. Matthew’s Street until they arrived at the extremity of the town, when they filed off on each side of the road so as form an avenue …”.

The Alexanders, like many important commercial families were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker prisoner reformer (who until recently featured on the back of the £5 note), actually spoke at his funeral. The Quakers although much concerned with the scourge of cheap spirits considered brewing ale as an acceptable trade.

The George, described as, “an excellent road-side house” was, at the time, being rented to Mrs Sarah Good for £12 a year. It was bought by a “Mr S. Piggens”. The £700 paid was much more than the £350 the inn sold for nearly thirty years later, but is likely that the other buildings and land which traditionally had formed part of the property had been sold separately in the intervening period. The most likely candidate for the new owner was Stephen Piggins Jnr., originally from Wisbech, who ran a brewery in Regent Street, Cambridge and who, as advertised that May, lived and had an outlet for his products in Brook Street, Ipswich.

Sarah Good, tenant landlady since – at least – 1828 remained until the following year, when at the age of 77 she retired to Woodbridge, dying in 1842.

If you have any historical facts, memories, photographs of The George, characters associated with the pub or groups that used it you wish to share, contact us by e-mail at heritage.wmgeorge@btconnect.com.

The George bygone – November

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Each month we hope to post stories from the newspaper archives and tell you more about our pub in the past. Here are a couple of happenings from past Novembers.

In November 1795, the following article appeared in the Ipswich Journal:

It makes no mention of the fact that Benjamin (1753 – 1827), a farmer from Sudbourne, had taken over The George from his brother, Robert, who in March had had to sell, “Under a distress for Rent”, his household effects at an auction at The George. It is clear that they were related to the pub itself as they included, “7 feather beds and bedding, mahogany and wainscot tables, pier and dressing glasses, chests of drawers, 2 handsome buffets, walnut-tree and painted chairs, coal range, 30 gallon copper, with brewing utensils, and sundry other articles.” It is not known if, in the end, his brother bought them in order to carry on with the business. Benjamin did not run The George for long as, in the following March, from the Crown Inn in Woodbridge, he was ‘acquainting’  “Gentlemen Travellers and others, that they may be accommodated with Post-chaises, able horses, on the shortest notice, as usual, at the above inn.” and in June of the same year (1796) was advertising The George, an “Old-accustomed Inn”, for let and immediate possession as he wished “to decline the public line of business.”

The following news story appeared in the Suffolk Chronicle, on the 6th November 1869:

Charles Bird had been the landlord of the George from, at least, the mid-1860s when it was sold as part of the Stonham Brewery’s pub estate in 1866. He was then paying £10 a year for the tenancy of the tied house, which was bought by Hansard J. Bridges for £350 along with two of the other pubs sold. Bridges had bought the Violet Hill Brewery in Stowmarket the year before. Having previously been the brewery manager at Stonham, he was obviously now building up his own pub chain. Fortunately, Charles Bird recovered from his injuries, in 1870 giving a bottle of rum as a prize for the 5th Suffolk (Wickham Market) Rifle Volunteers’ shooting competition (won by a Private Manthorpe), before transferring the licence of The George to William Foster in March 1871. Foster ran the George for the next nine or ten years, though changing its name to The Golden Lion. It became The George again under the next landlord, Robert Norford. The Mr [George] Hill mentioned very soon after the accident added to his bakery business and opened The Volunteer pub at the corner of High Street and Spring Lane.

If you have any historical facts, memories, photographs of The George, characters associated with the pub or groups that used it you wish to share, contact us by e-mail at heritage.wmgeorge@btconnect.com.