Historic pub's future in the balance

THE Landlady of the oldest pub in Ipswich has spoken of her fears for the future of the pub and her livelihood after it was put up for sale.Carol Sharman , the landlady of The Old Bell in Stoke Street, was told about two months ago that the owners, Pubmaster, would be selling the building, which dates back to the 14th century.

THE Landlady of the oldest pub in Ipswich has spoken of her fears for the future of the pub and her livelihood after it was put up for sale.

Carol Sharman , the landlady of The Old Bell in Stoke Street, was told about two months ago that the owners, Pubmaster, would be selling the building, which dates back to the 14th century.

Mrs Sharman, who has lived with her husband and worked at the pub for nearly nine years, said: "I have had no control over the sale at all. I am losing my home and job in one fell swoop. The brewery has not given me a reason for selling it. I guess it is just not making enough money."

Mrs Sharman, 50, blamed the competition from chain bars, such as JD Wetherspoon and Yates', in the town centre and their "pound a pint" gimmicks for the quiet business at The Old Bell.


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She also said that the pub, which was a popular drinking spot for the workers at the mill and the docks, was suffering from the decline in industry at the waterfront as well as the busy junctions outside.

She said: "I never thought I would get to 50 and not have a home or job. The pub is being sold as freehold so I guess the buyers can do what they want with it as long as it is ok with the listed building status."

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As soon as a buyer is found Mrs Sharman and her husband, a truck driver in Felixstowe, will have to pack up their possessions, as well as their cats, dogs and ferrets, and find a new home unless Pubmaster offers her a new pub to run nearby.

She said: "I have got the support of the regulars and everything but sometimes it is just not enough. I do feel a link with the building. I've met some really nice people and made some friends who I won't lose contact with even if I do have to move.

"It would have been nice to see what the pub would look like if it was done up properly but who is to say that the people who do buy it will revamp it?"

She said she does not know if she should prepare for Christmas and the New Year in case the pub does not sell quickly.

However, there has already been a lot of interest in The Old Bell and people were being shown around it yesterday afternoon .

Alistair Mitchell, a surveyor from Fenn Wright, the agents selling the building, said: "It is being sold as a vacant possession. It is a grade two listed building so there is not going to be any scope to modify the structure to any great extent. It could be put to an alternative use subject to planning permission."

A spokesperson for the owners said: "Pubmaster is constantly looking at how its estate is performing and after an extensive review of The Old Bell, the decision has been taken to sell the property. No restrictions have been placed on the building's future use."

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