Ipswich: Hare & Hounds pub set to become bridalwear shop

A PUB once branded as one of the toughest in Britain is set to be transformed into a bridalwear shop.

The Hare and Hounds in Norwich Road, Ipswich, which closed two weeks ago, has been bought by the owners of nearby Coes, and is set to undergo a major development.

The pub featured in the Sky One series Britain’s Toughest Pubs in 2004, appearing alongside a string of rough, dirty and dangerous pubs.

But yesterday proposals were submitted into Ipswich Borough Council to transform the site into a shop housing the dreams of future brides.

The venture will allow for more development to take place in Norwich Road and comes as Coes is nearing the completion of a �750,000 upgrade of its own store.

William Coe, who has purchased the property through the Ipswich office of national business agents Christie & Co, yesterday spoke of his delight at the recent acquisition.

The proposals will see Mr Coe lease the two storey character property to the bridalwear shop Just a Day, which will move from its current location just a few doors down.

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Mr Coe said he was very excited about the new venture. “It is a pub that has caused a few problems in this area of Ipswich in the past and it is a building which has been very well looked after so it will be nice to transform it.

“We are looking to bring it to a similar state to the current work at the Coes site,” he said. “We hope to have the shop open by January next year. We have submitted a planning application and we hope to start work in October. It is a very exciting time.”

John Grace, of Christie & Co, said: “The sale of the Hare and Hounds will further enhance the changing face of this area of Norwich Road and is an ideal purchase for Coes, who have invested substantially in their recent store refurbishment programme. It will prove an ideal location for the planned new wedding shop.”

During the episode featuring the town pub – which had a reputation locally as well as nationally – the programme described the venue as “one of Ipswich’s liveliest pubs” and said: “Working behind the bar here isn’t for weaklings”.

Over the past few years, the pub has changed hands a number of times. After being closed for a short time, it reopened in February this year under experienced publican Lyn Pope.

Mrs Pope, who also runs the Waterlily in St Helen’s Street with husband Craig, said at the time she wanted to be make the Hare and Hounds more family-friendly and to hold more weekend events.

“A lot of people said I must be mad to take on this pub. But it doesn’t have to have a bad name and we decided to see if we could help,” she added.

Yesterday, Mrs Pope said the pub had been a pleasure to run.

“I really enjoyed being there,” she said. “We took it on and it was getting a lot better; things were definitely picking up.

“We were getting busier and there wasn’t any trouble. It was actually a real pleasure to run, but unfortunately the brewery still decided to sell it.”