Lavenham and Sudbury celebrate a recovery of the Suffolk pub in 2015

Waggon and Horses pub in Sudbury. Manager Josie Pryke and chef Rob Valvona celebrating a successful

Waggon and Horses pub in Sudbury. Manager Josie Pryke and chef Rob Valvona celebrating a successful 2015. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Pubs in Sudbury and Lavenham are among those celebrating a bumper year as Suffolk’s pub industry shows signs of recovery after “six disastrous years”, the EADT can reveal, with the number of pub reopenings outnumbering closures in 2015.

Waggon and Horses pub in Sudbury. Manager Josie Pryke and chef Rob Valvona celebrating a successful

Waggon and Horses pub in Sudbury. Manager Josie Pryke and chef Rob Valvona celebrating a successful 2015. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Pubs in Sudbury and Lavenham are among those celebrating a bumper year as Suffolk’s pub industry shows signs of recovery after “six disastrous years”, the EADT can reveal, with the number of pub reopenings outnumbering closures in 2015.

Nigel Smith, Suffolk Area Organiser for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said at least 12 pubs have reopened in the county this year, while nine have closed.

Last night, landlords were praised for putting in “more effort” to understand and serve their communities.

Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Smith said: “As far as local CAMRA members can tell as regular local pub users, 2015 has been the most positive year for the local pub trade for several years.

Manager Sam Morris is pictured at The Cock Horse in Lavenham.

Manager Sam Morris is pictured at The Cock Horse in Lavenham. - Credit: Archant


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“After six disastrous consecutive years when so many Suffolk pubs have closed, 2015 has thankfully seen a net gain in local pubs reopening.

“While we need to be cautious and obviously the trade remains weak as most people don’t drink in pubs so much these days, it’s good to report that at least 12 pubs have reopened while another nine have closed, hopefully not permanently, during the course of the year.

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“Less volatility for the pub trade in 2016 would probably be most welcome for both local landlords and local drinkers alike, and it would certainly be a complete contrast to 2014 where we saw just nine pubs reopening after various lengthy spells of closure, while another 18 pubs had sadly closed during the same time period. Hopefully some of them will still reopen in due course.”

Lavenham

The Cock Horse Inn has only been reopened for seven weeks but already its owner said he could not be happier.

Having closed earlier this year, when it was known as The Cock, the Lavenham pub has changed hands and undergone a complete transformation.

“A good Suffolk pub is not a dying breed – it’s going to survive with the right team behind it,” said owner Rod Benson.

“To be honest the team I’ve got already in seven weeks is fantastic. I couldn’t wish for anymore.”

After a triumphant end to 2015, the team is looking forward to the new year.

“I would say it’s better than I thought, I couldn’t be happier,” said Rod.

“The amount of people we’re getting through the doors on a daily basis is fantastic.”

As gastropubs increasingly dominate the marketplace, Rod said they were keen for the Cock Horse Inn to retain its uniqueness.

“We’re stepping away from the gastro-style of pub and we’re pretty much going down the route of a family-orientated pub,” he said.

Sudbury

A Sudbury pub that has completely changed its character and appearance is also booming 18 months down the line.

Manager Josie Pryke said whether people were wearing high heels or wellington boots, everyone was welcome at the Waggon and Horses.

The pub has had a thriving year and Josie said it continued going from strength to strength.

“It’s been brilliant this year, we’ve had two beer festivals and a charity music festival,” she said.

“It’s fully booked on a Friday night and Saturday night.”

The pub is owned by Bonnie Steel and Lewis Bennett, who also own The George, in Cavendish.

“It’s always busy and you can come in dressed up in your heels or you can come in wearing your wellies,” said Josie.

The pub reopened in June, 2014, after being closed for around a week.

“Straight off from opening night I don’t think there’s been a quiet day since,” she said, adding of Bonnie and Lewis: “They’ve got a good reputation, because obviously The George is a good-quality restaurant. I think people were very excited to see what we would do here.”

This year’s music festival raised £500 for Oxfam.

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