Although the Broads have a long history of brewing, from the early days in Coltishall, to the modern regional brewery, Woodforde’s, in Woodbastwick, Lacon’s brewery in Great Yarmouth has the greatest connection to the Museum.
Established in 1640, the business later transferred by marriage to Mr Laycon, and from 1760 became known as Lacon’s Brewery. Its emblem was the Falcon.
Lacon’s produced the beer for half the local pubs, competing with its Norwich rival, Steward & Patteson. In 1868, a railway siding was built at the brewery to give direct access to London. It purchased the St Margaret’s Brewery in Norwich in 1902, and by 1914, owned 30 pubs in Norwich.
In the 1930s, Lacon’s owned 180 pubs in Great Yarmouth, 37 in surrounding villages and 27 pubs in London. Beer was delivered by horse drawn drays and carts in town, and steam wagons delivered to the villages.
The Church of St Nicholas and Lacon’s Brewery were both bombed on the night of 24 June 1942. The fire brigade could save only the one building, and so the church burnt down!
In November 1965, the brewery and its 354 tied houses were acquired by Whitbread. The brewery closed in 1968.
And the connection to the Museum? The Museum’s steamboat, ‘Falcon’, was built in 1894 for Sir Edmund Lacon. Restored by Museum volunteers, she continues to work under steam, taking Museum visitors for trips on the river.