Bury St Edmunds: Historic Elephant and Castle pub closes

A PUB which dates back to the 19th Century has closed as the business had become unviable.

The Elephant and Castle, which is a Greene King pub in Hospital Road, Bury St Edmunds, had been suffering financially over the last six to eight months, landlord Sean Driscoll said.

Pub giant Greene King said to continue to invest in its pubs it sometimes had to make the difficult decision to close those which had become unviable.

Mr Driscoll said: “As the landlord of the pub I regret the decision that has been made, but I fully understand it was done purely on cost, finance. The pub was running at a loss and no business can sustain a loss for too long.

“You hope that things will improve, but unfortunately in the case of the Elephant and Castle there was no sign of any improvement and that decision was made, understandably and with our co-operation as well.”

Mr Driscoll has been in the pub industry for more than 20 years and also runs the Bennet Arms in Rougham, the Victoria in Thurston and the Greyhound in Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmunds. He said the closure of the Elephant and Castle, which dates back to 1840, was sad for the small group of regulars, but unfortunately the downturn in the economy had meant people’s disposable incomes had been squeezed and there was just not enough business to go round.

When asked if the opening of the new J D Wetherspoon pub in the town had been a factor, he said the business had been struggling long before then.

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The Elephant and Castle may have shut, but he said the Greyhound would now be closed for three weeks for a refurbishment which showed Greene King’s commitment to invest as well.

A Greene King spokesman said: “We regularly review our estate to look for opportunities to invest and develop our pubs, as demonstrated by our recent investment in the Bushel and planned major investments at the Tollgate and the Linden Tree. We are also planning to invest in another three of our local Bury St Edmunds pubs within the next 12 months.

“To continue to invest in our pubs and to provide the best experience and surroundings for our customers we do sometimes have to make the difficult decision to close pubs which have become unviable as businesses due to a reduction in the number of customers using them. Furthermore, as a business we have to respond to the changing face of retail in our town centres, which can, and does, impact on decisions about pubs’ futures.

“The Elephant and Castle is currently closed pending a decision about its long-term future.”