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A Norfolk Weave

Felicia Jane Milne, 2018

 This wall hanging is designed to represent the Norfolk brewing industry. The backing is hand dyed cotton and is rusted with found iron objects used in the brewing industry. The weave is constructed using natural jute and sisal hop strings, and the weft uses locally grown hop vines and malting barley straw.



We are so pleased that the installation of Collaborate 2018 – Beer and Brewing is complete. All the works look amazing and we have already had lots of positive comments from visitors. Thank you all so much for your hard work and creativity. Over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring individual works – so stay tuned to the blog to find out more! The exhibition is open until Sunday 28th October – so make sure you come and see it before it is gone!

Lino progress

This week we have an update post from Megan, our curator:

“I am lucky enough not only to help run Collaborate this year, but also to get involved creatively. I used to do lino printing when I was a teenager, but hadn’t done any for a long time. The Beer and brewing exhibition got me thinking about the new ways pubs are diversifying – offering different services and becoming more community led.

I thought I might be able to show this in some lino prints that illustrate traditional pubs names, but in new ways that reflect the changing nature of the pub and their communities. I knew I wanted to do a set of three different prints. I started by thinking about traditional pub names – the Pelican, The Crown and The Elephant and Castle. I then thought about how these pubs might have developed – maybe one was a pub-post office, another offered computer lessons and the third had become a Thai restaurant?

Taking that as inspiration I attended a fantastic Relief Print course run by Print to the People in Norwich. This gave me the confident to give it a go and design and draw up my first two prints – the Pelican and the Crown.

Taking the plunge and cutting lino for the first time in over 20 years was a bit daunting – but I managed to not cut myself this time and was pretty please with the resulting prints. I’m now going to try and source some vintage envelopes and stamps for printing the Pelican onto, and to find an image of computer code to underlay the Crown. Designs still to be drawn up for the Elephant and Castle but I already now that is going to be printed over the restaurants menu.


Exploring a more creative approach to the collections has been really inspiring and I am looking forward to completing the project and seeing the prints on the wall!”


Helen Street has been working with us, developing an idea of a range of bottles that represent the varied Norfolk communities that use pubs, and spell out the word COMMUNITY. These will be displayed within the Beers and Brewing exhibition in October. Here Helen reports back and send us photos of bottles in progress:

“I’m really enjoying being part of Collaborate.

I’ve made a start on making the small community of bottles/people in clay.

Victoria and I have also made some in Mod Roc.

Vic and I also had an idea of having a fridge behind the bar with a clear door to display some additional bottles.”

Thanks for your update Helen – we can’t wait to see the finished product. It is great to see our creators making links and inspiring each other.


Collaborating with the community

Over the last couple of weeks we have had a fabulous time collaborating with a couple of community groups. This gives us a chance to get parts of the temporary exhibition out into the community, to people who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see it.

We have worked with the BUILD charity who are a Norfolk based independent charity providing social, leisure and learning opportunities to people with sensory, physical or learning disabilities. We attended their Wednesday Club and ran a drop in activity looking at museums objects related to pubs and inviting attendees to make a beer mat to be displayed at the museum this Autumn.

We have also worked with the Amberley Hall Care Home. The home already had a good relationship with Lynn Museum, who they regularly visit to attend a Coffee and Collections mornings. We took advantage of this relationship to use Lynn Museum as a venue for a coffee and pubs session. We took in a variety of museum objects, pub smells and pub games. We enjoyed reminiscing about pubs and played a few pub games (I enjoyed my dominos match!). We even tried pub snacks including pork scratching and salt and shake crisps. We then asked residents to make beer mats for our display.

The sessions were a pilot for this type of collaborative approach with community groups and feedback has been good. We are hoping to continue working this way in the future through the “Collaborate” programme. Let us know if you are part of a community group that would like to get involved.


Coffee and collaborate

On Friday 6th July a group of us met up at Gressenhall to enjoy coffee, cakes and collaboration. It was great to hear how everyone was getting along and what we had all been working on. We are all at different stages in our work – but it was very exciting to see how the temporary exhibition had enthused and inspired us all.

Steward and Patteson

Many people were employed by the brewing industry in Norfolk – maybe you’ll be inspired by these memories from Barry Berwick who worked at the Pockthorpe Brewery for Steward and Patteson:

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Norfolk was home to hundreds of brewers. Many of them are featured in the ‘Beers and Brewing: Norfolk’s Rural Pubs exhibition.’ One of the biggest brewers in Norfolk was Steward and Patteson. Items from the brewery are on display in the exhibition.

In 1793 John Patteson bought the Pockthorpe brewery. In just 40 years the company had bought three more breweries and owned 120 pubs. The company had many name changes and expanded rapidly. In 1895 they owned 498 pubs. In 1961 Steward and Patteson bought half of Morgan’s Brewery adding 200 pubs to their already 1250.

The brewery had their own Cooper’s shop making casks and barrels. These tools are on loan to us from The Museum of Norwich and are on display in the exhibition.

The fantastic book ‘Norwich Pubs and Breweries Past and Present’ by Frances and Michael Holmes (which was invaluable when researching for this exhibition) features…

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Bidwell’s Brewery

It wasn’t just Norwich that had big breweries. In this blog post by temporary exhibition curator Lauren Ephithite she looks at Bidwell’s Brewery of Thetford.

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Norfolk has the ideal conditions for growing barley which led to hundreds of breweries in the county. The small market town of Thetford was home to one of the most important breweries in the East of England – Bidwell’s!

This family run business was based in a flint building on Old Market Street, now a Grade II listed building. The family were wealthy and held important positions within the town.

The Bidwell’s Brewery was founded in Thetford in 1710. The brewery grew rapidly throughout the Victorian period. In 1868 Bidwell’s ran, not only the brewery but also several pubs in Thetford and more across Norfolk. They also owned pubs in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The estate was valued at £30,000 and continued to grow. By 1889 Bidwell’s was worth £68,000 and consisted of 55 pubs and malthouses plus other buildings and land in the town. In 1905 the business was sold outside…

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