Region is 'losing historic pubs'

THINK of an idyllic East Anglian scene, and it is more than likely the picture conjured up would include a quaint old pub set in rolling green fields.But that picture is getting less rosy as the years pass according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which claims the region is losing its historic pubs.

THINK of an idyllic East Anglian scene, and it is more than likely the picture conjured up would include a quaint old pub set in rolling green fields.

But that picture is getting less rosy as the years pass according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which claims the region is losing its historic pubs.

In a national inventory launched yesterday , the group reveals that, of the country's 60,000 pubs, just 250 have still got their traditional interiors.

And Suffolk and Essex can boast just seven such pubs, with many former historic drinking houses long since changed and adapted to meet modern trends.


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Nigel Smith, a spokesman for Suffolk CAMRA, lamented a move towards fashionable theme outlets as the reason behind the shocking fall in character-packed pubs.

He said: "Most of our historic pubs have been lost - a lot of them have been modified quite extensively in recent years.

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"Even if the modifications are done in a sympathetic way it changes the character of the pub completely.

"Where there has been character and heritage, the industry seems to have gone out of its way to rip it out.

"The crazy thing is a lot of new pubs today are created in a traditional historic style, but they are totally fake – they can look nice, but they're just not what the original building was about."

In Essex, just two pubs make the historic grade – The Viper at Mill Green, near Ingatestone, and the buffet on Manningtree Railway Station.

The outlook looks slightly better in Suffolk, with five pubs making CAMRA's list. They are the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds, The Cock in Brent Eleigh, The Butt and Oyster at Pinmill, The Margaret Catchpole in Ipswich and The Kings Head at Laxfield.

Mr Smith said: "We are actually luckier than most counties in Suffolk but there is still a shortage of historic pubs left.

"We would like to see more effort being made to preserves the ones that are left for the future. I would imagine that quite a few of them are already under threat.

"We would encourage people to visit those pubs which are still around, not only because they are wonderful buildings, but also because they need support.

"They are slowly disappearing and we fear that in a few years time many of them will be gone – unless we take action now."

Martin Baylis, landlord of the Nutshell – also recognised as the smallest pub in the world – backed the CAMRA inventory.

He said: "Too many pubs are making needless changes nowadays. We have got no plans whatsoever to change things here – it would destroy the character of the pub."

Owner of the buffet at Manningtree Railway Station, Paul Sankey, said whenever any improvements were made, they always attempted to retain a sense of tradition.

He said: "It is quaintly dilapidated here, but people like it like that. We don't get a lot of regulars, it is all transient trade.

"We do sell a lot of real ale and we have the re-vamped modern cellar but the pub is much the same as it has been for a long time. We are always trying to improve it, but keep the same ambience."

He added the windows had been smashed so many times that there was only one of the original panes left and described the bar as having the ambience like that in the film A Brief Encounter.

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