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Harbour Inn (Formerly The Fishing Buss)

In the early 1700s it was known as 'Blackshore Alehouse, By the end of the century it was being referred to as 'The Fishing Buss' or simply 'The Buss'. Its ownership and management in the 18th and 19th centuries were closely linked with the ownership and management of the Blackshore Quay and wharf which it served. The Town Bailiffs were the legal owners and tenancy of both the Wharf and the pub were regularly auctioned for fixed terms. It is often difficult to disentangle tenancies and sub-tenancies. Sometimes it seems that the Landlord of the pub sub-lets the wharf. Sometimes it appears to be the Wharf tenant who appoints a pub landlord.

Pre 1740
John and Barbara Petre (BSD)

Pre 1743
John and Mary Colman (BSD)

William Nunn has become the owner. Ownership soon passes to John Thompson, owner of the Old Swan Inn and its brewhouse. However, at this time, the ale house was supplied not by his brewery but by William Clarke's Bungay brewery.(BSD)

John Berry (M) Alehouse keeper

William Prettyman succeeds John Berry (M) Alehouse keeper

Jo Gillings succeeds William Prettyman (M)

William Balls succeeds Jo Gillings. The 'Fishing Buss' public House is an integral part of Blackshore Quay at this time. William will remain the innkeeper for 26 years but sublets the quay to a succession of tenants. (M)

Peter Palmer (Status of Peter Palmer needs clarifying - a tenant of William Balls?) (BSD)

William Balls- Innkeeper, sublets the quay to (Forename) Hadingham for a three-year term. (M) This year the new freehold owners of the inn are Messrs Cracknell & Cracknell, proprietors of the Haleswrth Brewery.

William Balls - Innkeeper. The 1841 census records William, age 55, as the Inn Keeper of the Fishing Buss, married to Sarah (30) and with 6 children aged from 1 to 15.

This year James Maggs records that William Balls fails to pay the rent for the wharf and it is let instead to Charles Naunton for a 4 month term. On the completion of this term it is let to Isaac Chinery for one year but with Charles Naunton continuing to run it. William's tenure of the Fishing Buss ends this year. (M)

On October 11th this year, George Butcher (Snr) of Wenhaston rents the wharf and Fishing Buss at £5 per year. He appoints David Newson to run it. (M) The owners are still the Halesworth Brewery.

John Dendy Strowger - (age 50) takes over from David Newson as under-tenant of George Butcher and landlord of the inn on October 28th. Before that John Strowger was a mariner - the Master of the 'Sole Bay' - operating in coastal and foreign trades. (C, M) John is married to the daughter of George Butcher (Snr) who is now in his 80s and lives with them at the inn. (C1861)

Note:John Dendy Strowger's son, John Aldrich Strowger, will marry Eleanor Powditch in 1865. She is the sister of mariners William and Samuel Powditch whose' story can be read here.

In June this year, on the retirement of its proprietor, Thomas Cracknell, Halesworth Brewery puts its entire estate including 34 public houses and inns up for auction, two of which are in Southwold: The Crown and the Fishing Buss. (See auction notice, right). Not known whether a purchaser emerges.

John Dendy Strowger - Inn Keeper (C)

John Dendy Strowger - Inn Keeper (PO Directory)

George Butcher - We assume this is George Butcher (Jnr), previously a corn and coal merchant from Wenhaston, who has served time for smuggling tobacco. (see cutting, right) (BSD)

John Dendy Strowger dies on 7th January having spent his declining years as a cow keeper.(probate records)

The Fishing Buss Inn is put up for auction on June 13th. See notice, right.Not known who the buyer and seller are.

William Ladd (BSD)

The Inn is acquired by Adnams & Co under chairmanship of Ernest Adnams as part of a major expansion programme for the brewery. It is now known as The Harbour Inn.

Charles James  Prior - Inn Keeper and Carrier, aged 31. Charles is married to Emily and they have one son, Leonard, aged 1 this year.
(BSD, c 1901, 1911)


Charles James Prior
- Inn Keeper (c1911)



Mr Noller (BSD)

C J Prior (BSD)

FW Orwell (BSD)

J Hurr (BSD) 

J Hurr - In July this year, the Harbour Inn is closed for the duration of the war. (BSD)

Jack W Cummings - The inn is re-opened this year. (BSD)

D E F Peasant (BSD)


F T W (Bunny) Cross - married to Lettie. (BSD)

F T W (Bunny) Cross - married to Lettie. (BSD)


Lettie Cross - Retires in 1975 (BSD

Ron and Nan Westwood (BSD)


Mike and Jenny Turner

Colin and Katie Fraser


Nick Attfield


Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
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BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

Although the alehouse was owned by Halesworth Brewery in the 1840s, the adjacent granary and coal bin was part of the estate of William Crisp who owned the Southwold Brewery. This building was put to auction by his executors after his death in 1844.

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Cutting from the Norwich Mercury, Dec 15th 1855. George Butcher Junior, the tobacco smuggler, was the son of George Butcher senior who had run Blackshore wharf and the inn until 1851.

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John Dendy Strowger's Master's Certficate.

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Part of an auction inventory dated June 13, 1855, announcing the sale of the Fishing Buss by the Halesworth Brewery

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Auction notice announcing sale of the Fishing Buss on June 13 1881. Not known who the buyer and seller are.

Oil painting by Clifford Russel (c1960s) looking across the Blyth towards the Harbour Inn. The white building adjacent to the inn has since been demolished. Click the picture to enlarge.

With thanks to Peter Parke for permission to reproduce his painting

Harbour Inn in 1910 when Charles Prior was Inn Keeper.
Photo courtesy of Ian Goffin, gt grandson of Charles Prior

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Left: Emily Prior (nee Whincop, wife of Charles). Centre: Joe Prior (their son) and right: Beatrice (Beaty) Vera Prior (Joe's older sister)

Photo Courtesy of Ian Goffin, grandson of Beaty.

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Photographed in the early 1990s, the former granary and coal bin before its rebuilding in the 1990s as the Harbour Inn restaurant.

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The rebuilt granary, far right

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Ron and Nan Westwood photographed in the mid 1980s.
Reproduced from 'To the Town' by kind permission of Stephen Wolfenden

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Katie & Colin Fraser in the late 1990s.
Reproduced from 'The Town Revisited' by kind permission of Stephen Wolfenden

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Nick Attfield in approximately 2012.
Reproduced from 'It's that Town Again' by kind permission of Stephen Wolfenden

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