Ipswich: The number of town pubs being lost continues to rise, but for the first time, bosses say there is hope for the future
15:00 03 May 2014
It is an industry worth millions of pounds to Suffolk’s economy and responsible for creating and maintaining hundreds of jobs.
But traditional watering holes in Ipswich are now being lost at a rate of nearly two every year, The Ipswich Star has discovered.
Once well known names such as the The Elm and The Rose and Crown have been consigned to the history books in the last two decades, while others such as Norwich Road’s Emperor Inn have been turned into convenience stores.
Industry experts have previously stressed that the loss of pubs is a nationwide problem, with the option of cheap supermarket booze one of the main reasons given for the fall.
Pub bosses in Ipswich, however, have said for the first time that there may be some light at the tunnel if venues in the town can adapt.
Julie Ridgeon, landlord of the Kingfisher, in Hawthorn Drive, said a full booking of functions at her venue have been one of the keys behind a behind a good 2014.
She added: “For us at the moment, things are looking a bit rosier. We do also have an awful lot of functions booked in which is really good for us.
“I am not saying it is amazing, we still need to do a lot of the work ourselves, but it is better than it was last year.
“I think people have just got fed up of being indoors and have said enough is enough.
“My job is to serve the community, and that is how it should be.”
St Jude’s Brewery Tavern is one of the town’s newest pubs but is continuing to go from strength to strength and recently was named CAMRA’s Ipswich and East Suffolk branch pub of the year.
Venue owner Colleen Seymour believes that there is a future for freehouses and microbreweries because they can offer a personal service to customers.
She added: “The trade is good for the freehouses but for others it is dying.
“The micropubs and freehouses will survive as long as you own it and can control what’s going on (with prices).
“Things are going really well for us and it is all thanks to the customers. We got the award last week and we got it for just doing what we do so we are really pleased.”
At least 35 pubs have disappeared from the estates and streets of Ipswich in the last 20 years including the Thomas Eldred pub in the Crofts, The John Bull in Woodbridge Road and the Duke of Gloucester.
Former Star picture editor, Dave Kindred, has published a book called Ipswich: Lost Inns, Taverns and Public Houses, charting some of the town’s lost pubs, the number of which has fallen from more than 300 at the end of the Victorian period to about 90 today.
Publicans have admitted there are question marks hanging over the way the industry will look in the future, but all are hopeful that it will be retained in some way.
Val Bint, landlady of the Steamboat Tavern, added: “One would hope that the pubs that are left will stay and trade but I honestly don’t know.”