Pub saved from closure

VILLAGERS have saved their community's pub from closure after tracking down the owners through the internet and persuading them to re-open the historic Suffolk tavern.

By John Howard

VILLAGERS have saved their community's pub from closure after tracking down the owners through the internet and persuading them to re-open the historic Suffolk tavern.

The Punch Bowl Inn at Battisford, near Stowmarket, opened this week to the delight of residents, who say it is the heart of their village.

The pub, believed to date back about 400 years, closed in September and was acquired by an investment company, sparking fears that like so many other rural pubs in the county it could be developed and turned into new homes leaving them with a dormitory village.


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Residents decided to scour the internet and even Land Registry files to see who had bought the tavern, contacted the new owners - investment firm Legends - and persuaded them to re-open the pub.

New pub landlord David Rowe-Stephens, who has experience running another pub near Stowmarket and who lives locally, said: “The pub is viable, the locals can't wait to get in.

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“I used to drink here too and loved this little old place. The pub is extremely important to the village. I will do my bit and work hard and it's up to people to use it now.”

Peter Knights, one of the villagers who helped campaign to save the pub with the support of the local parish and district council, said: “We were frightened it would be turned into housing.

“I've lived here years and it's the reason for moving to Battisford, having such a lovely pub nearby. It's cosy, warm, a place to relax after a day and catch up on village gossip. So many communities are losing their facilities and we felt this is the social hub of the community.”

The freehold pub, rich with exposed beams and fireplaces, will offer a whole range of real ales and from January, home-cooked food.

Ash Sharma, a partner in pub owner Legends, which has other interests in clubs and hotels, said: “Our aim is not to make lots of money out of it, but if it is good for the community, creates some work for people, and we can earn some money then that's good.”

Mr Sharma, who lives in Windsor, is now considering looking into developing accommodation at the pub, possibly expanding it to create more rooms.

n For details of pub opening times contact the landlord David Rowe-Stephens on 01449 612302.

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