Bury St Edmunds: New landlord of Masons Arms speaks of plans for its future

THE NEW landlord of a popular Bury St Edmunds pub has said it is going to become one of the premier venues for cask ale in the town.

Sean Driscoll, who now runs five pubs in the area, said about �100,000 was set to be pumped into The Masons Arms in Whiting Street in a joint investment with major pub firm Greene King.

Mr Driscoll, who owns Metro Inns pub company with Gary Wood, has taken over from the Warton family who had run the pub for more than 20 years.

Mr Driscoll said: “It’s a quirky, old place and it is going to be having a major refurbishment and it’s going to become one of Bury’s premier cask ale pubs with 10 hand pumps on the bar.”

The 48-year-old said the pub, which dates back to the 16th Century, would remain traditional, adding that the weekly quiz night and the open mic night every other Wednesday would continue.

He said it would be completely redecorated and upgraded, adding that the exterior would pretty much be staying the same.

He said they were hoping to attract customers who enjoy pubs like the Dove, the Beerhouse and the One Bull in Bury.

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“We are all very positive about the future plans. It’s going to be quite amazing,” Mr Driscoll said.

The opening of a JD Wetherspoon pub at the Corn Exchange in the town centre has been said to be impacting on trade at a number of drinking establishments.

Mr Driscoll said: “The fight back starts here really. Although we cannot compete with Wetherspoon’s buying power, we hope to offer something a little bit different that makes people want to come and visit The Masons Arms.”

He added: “I think traditional pubs have still got a place. You have to move with the times and what might work in one might not necessarily work in another.”

John Gagen, pubs officer for the west Suffolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), agreed there was a demand for “proper pubs,” adding that the plans for the Masons sounded good as far as real ale went.

“It’s good news for pub customers in Bury. Fingers crossed he [landlord] can make it work.”

A spokeswoman for Greene King said: “We would like to welcome Sean Driscoll and Gary Wood to the Masons Arms, Bury St Edmunds.

“We’re meeting with designers this week to look at exciting redevelopment plans and will keep our customers up-to-date.”

A live music event is being held at the Masons on October 25 from 7.30pm to 11pm in support of the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts in Stowmarket.

Entry is free.