Cost of living: Norwich bar Arboretum abandons electricity

Published:
4:47 PM September 21, 2022



A Norwich bar is taking a stand against soaring energy prices by taking things back to basics.

St Benedicts Street Arboretum is replacing lights and heating with lanterns, a lit fireplace and blankets from next week.

Gregory Williams, 31, opened the premises in the summer of 2018 after running bars while studying fine art at Norwich University of the Arts.

He combines his other passion for antiques, with a range of curiosities available for purchase, and his four dogs, Big Dillon, Little Dylan, Butterscotch and Booker, greet guests.

Gregory Williams with his dog Booker at Arboretum.

Gregory Williams with his dog Booker at Arboretum.
– Credit: Arboretum

The cozy bar features Victorian décor and serves beers from St Peter’s Brewery in Bungay as well as cocktails using historic recipes.

A big change in response to the cost of living crisis will make it truly reminiscent of a bygone era.

Mr Williams said: “I’m in the same boat as a lot of people in the industry because after all the Covid lockdowns we still have money to pay back which threatens us.

“Now energy bills are going up and so are stock prices – for example, the price of lime juice has tripled in the last month.

“I was looking at my results and wanted to make something positive out of a negative.

The garden space at Arboretum in St Benedicts Street, Norwich.

The garden space at Arboretum in St Benedicts Street, Norwich.
– Credit: Arboretum

“It’s a Victorian themed bar, which will keep costs down and make it an immersive experience.”

He will instead use gas lanterns, light the real Victorian fireplace, and provide blankets in colder areas.

The ingenuity doesn’t stop there with a wind-up card machine and gramophones for music too.

Glassware will also be hand washed and beers will be served the traditional way at room temperature.

Arboretum switches electricity for lanterns and a lit fireplace.

Arboretum switches electricity for lanterns and a lit fireplace.
– Credit: Arboretum

Mr Williams added: “There has been a lot of excitement and I think it will appeal to everyone as it is both good for the climate and brings things back to the traditional way.

“It’s an extreme version, but there’s no reason other pubs can’t do something like this.”

It is located at number 43 with a secret entrance and is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

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