'Larger than life' landlord dies

HE was the “larger than life” landlord of one of East Anglia's most unusual pubs - a man of strong views with a love of cricket and most other sports.George Coleman, who has died suddenly aged 61, ran the Kings Head pub at Laxfield, known as The Low House, with his wife, Maureen.

HE was the “larger than life” landlord of one of East Anglia's most unusual pubs - a man of strong views with a love of cricket and most other sports.

George Coleman, who has died suddenly aged 61, ran the Kings Head pub at Laxfield, known as The Low House, with his wife, Maureen.

The pub is one of the few in the region that remains from a bygone age - free of piped music, gambling machines and soft furnishings.

He and his wife moved to the pub, where beer is still served from a back kitchen, six years ago after already working for more than 20 years in the pub trade in Suffolk.


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On Tuesday morning Mr Coleman was found unconscious and, despite resuscitation efforts by his wife and the paramedics called to the scene he was pronounced dead.

Mrs Coleman said yesterday her husband had loved meeting people and had thoroughly enjoyed life at The Low House - so named because of its location in a dip in the land.

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“He was a very social person and he was great at going round and making people feel comfortable.

“He was well known for his jokes and his love of jazz and he liked nothing better than a good debate. He was a very strong character and had an opinion on just about everything,” she said.

A Euro-sceptic, he had been outraged when the European Union banned his favourite pipe tobacco, Balkan Sobranie, “because it was too strong”.

Mrs Coleman said her husband had considered himself very much a custodian of the pub's atmosphere and traditions.

He had not been well for a few months and was due to see a heart specialist although he had perked up over Christmas and the New Year.

The couple's daughter, Sarah, who lives and works in London, rushed back to Suffolk following her father's death.

She said: “He was tough but fair, a fantastic father who had a huge heart and always gave me the best hug possible. I shall miss that.”

Born in Castleford, Mr Coleman trained as a quantity surveyor but he was soon setting up his own suede and leather manufacturing business in London.

He and his wife, who had married in 1972, moved to Suffolk in 1977 to take over the freehold of the Queen's Head pub at Dennington.

Later they became tenants of the Railway Inn at Framlingham where they stayed for 20 years, Mr Coleman playing cricket in his pub's team, called The Railway Sleepers.

After deciding to seek a new challenge, Mr and Mrs Coleman ran the Red Lion pub at Southwold for nine months before being asked to take over The Low House.

The pub had once been owned by Adnams, but was at that time privately owned - although the brewery firm bought it back in 2001.

A fast bowler, Mr Coleman continued playing cricket locally until a few years ago, turning out annually for a Framlingham College team called the Quilibets during summer festivals and also for the Gents of Suffolk.

Jonathan Adnams, managing director of Adnams & Company, said: “George was known as a man of strong character, always ready for a good debate, and he will be sadly missed.”

Gerald Nason, an artist, poet and playwright who has been a regular at The Low House for several decades, said: “George was a larger than life character. He was terrific, an extraordinarily kind man.”

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