It's not just Partridge, turkey and Norfolk Broads! OutUK’s Adrian Gillan checks out
queer Norwich, the capital of East Anglia.
Bootiful, really bootiful. And I don’t just mean the city itself which is indeed
a kind of overlooked York, out-on-a-limb in the forgotten lobe of East England,
complete with Norman Castle, Cathedral, walls, arches and spires and old medieval
trade street names.
Cruising on the Norfolk Broads.
I naturally also refer to the home-grown boys in this town
further swollen by students, all strutting their stuff around its ancient, compact,
easily walkable lanes like some rare breed sure to broaden the smile on even one of
Bernard Matthews’ jolliest faces.
True: there are no gay saunas; no meaningful inner-city cruising grounds to speak
of despite fine parks - just a lay-by in heavy woods on the left-hand
side of the A11 dual carriageway, about 10 miles out of Norwich; and no Lord Raglan
pub now that old gay stalwart has closed its doors alas.
But there’s still much here to amuse a keen queer chap. You’ll need refreshments after
a journey to a town that gave us Delia Smith. So, try the central gay-friendly Take
Five Café in arty Cinema City church-conversion multiplex with summer courtyard at rear -
a mere five minutes walk from the railway station. Or try the even more bustling and
bohemian Norwich Playhouse Bar & Restaurant round the corner on St Georges Street,
again, with its sprawling summer terraces out the back.
Stomach filled, hit The Woolpack mere yards away - a colourful pub with spacious yard
out front facing onto a gorgeous church - all welcome, no judgments made. From all reports the food here can be a bit iffy
let alone the Karaoke renditions of popular songs belted out by the regular customer brigade. If you cross
the river to The Ten Bells on St Benedicts Street, you'll find another mixed and gay-friendly pub -
dark and cosy with lively acts.
If you want a real booster, you
must visit The Castle off Ketts Hill a pub that's gay through-and-through, very
busy and attracting a youngish crowd. It’s reached via a charming walk through the
old-world Cathedral quarter and over the river once more, and has friendly staff
and a large garden for some summertime boozing.
Open air market in Norwich - Photo: Nickos.
The Catherine Wheel is a friendly and inviting gay and lesbian bar located in the heart of Norwich
on St Augustines Street. They host a range of interesting evenings themed for dressing up in drag, becoming
one of the emergency services and even demos of mediumship.
The Loft NR1 on Rose Lane has been here serving the Norwich gay community for over 30 years.
It's recently been modernised throughout and you'll find this pure-pop gay club spans
two-floorsIt’s pretty much
all they’ve got, but those local lads sure make the most of it, a joy to behold.
Arrive before 11pm to avoid the queues!
And if you’re still around the morning after to explore this beautiful city and
bijou boutique lanes, do pop into three shops near each other in the south west
centre. The Greenhouse on Bethel Street is a gay-friendly organic cafe with an
interesting array of books, magazines and cards.
Finally, Norfolk LGBT+ Project in Cathedral Street have been providing support relevant to the
health and wellbeing needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender + community in Norfolk
and Waveney since 2007. They have a range of services based around sexuality or gender identity and
offer advice, peer-support and information.
Norwich is under two hours away from London Liverpool Street by Anglia Railways.
For information and booking
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Take Five Café (in Cinema City, 14-16 Lower Goat Lane / St Andrews Street; T: 01603 763099)
Norwich Playhouse Bar & Restaurant (St Georges Street; T: 01603 766669)
The Woolpack Yard (Muspole Street; T: 07432 053283)
The Ten Bells (St Benedicts Street; T: 01603 667833)
The Castle (Spittalfields, off Ketts Hill; T: 01603 768886)
The Catherine Wheel (61 St Augustines St; T: 01603 627852; Website)
The Loft NR1 (80 Rose Lane; T: 01603 623559; Website)
The Greenhouse (42-46 Bethel Street; T: 01603 631007)
Norfolk LGBT+ Project (10 Cathedral St; T: 01603 219299; Website)
Revised April 2019.