Suffolk: Communities rally to save their village pubs

Engineers Arms, Leiston

Engineers Arms, Leiston - Credit: Archant

When faced with the prospect of their local pub closing, communities can step in. And that is what has happened around Suffolk and north Essex in recent years.

The Pinkauh Arms in Polstead

The Pinkauh Arms in Polstead - Credit: Archant

The Admirals Head at little Bealings

The Admirals Head at little Bealings - Credit: Archant

Engineers Arms, Leiston

When the Engineers Arms in Leiston suddenly closed earlier this year the town was keen to ensure that - sitting in the heart of a conservation area - the site was not bought by developers and turned into housing.

The pub - put on the market by Adnams - has now been registered as an “asset of community value” and plans are afoot to ensure it still plays a prominent role.

The proposals have been led by members of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council but a team of volunteers will be required if the dreams are to become a reality.

The plan involves installing a kitchen to allow the pub run as a going concern, while in the garden it is hoped to build a cycling centre from which people can explore the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This will combine with plans by the Leiston Works Railway group to restore the train track running down the side of the building.

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It is also hoped to use the premises to expand the neighbouring library and some of its other rooms for community uses.

Meanwhile, it is felt the curtilage of the building lends itself to expanding the collection in the nearby Long Shop Museum and providing a small building for the local family history group.

Clerk to the town council John Rayner said: “The Engineers Arms is in a conservation area in the centre of town. Councillors and a lot of residents felt it would be a shame to turn it into a housing development so we listed it as a community asset.

“A major part in the thinking was also the Leiston Works Railway, which is currently restoring the track that runs down the side of the property. We didn’t want to see the pub sold off to a developer and the group not being able to complete its project.”

The community now has six months to raise the money to purchase the pub and Mr Rayner encouraged anyone who could help to get in touch.

“Although the council is driving the project we need volunteers to get involved and take it forward, otherwise it will be sold ,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they can help can contact Mr Rayner at townclerk@leistontowncouncil.gov.uk or on 01728 830388.

Pinkuah Arms, Pentlow

The small village community of Pentlow, near Cavendish, is keen to see its local pub open again.

The Pinkuah Arms, below, closed last November after its owners got into financial difficulty. It was put up for auction just before Christmas and a group of local people clubbed together to try to buy the establishment for the community.

But they were outbid by a private buyer who has since renovated the building and is currently advertising for a tenant to run it as a pub.

According to villager Isobel Clark, who has been involved in a move to preserve the pub as a community asset, Pentlow Parish Council approached Braintree District Council to get the Pinkuah Arms listed as an asset of community value just before it was sold at auction.

She said: “The idea was that by getting an order put on it, this would prevent any buyer from turning it into a residential property and ultimately safeguard it from being knocked down for redevelopment. It’s a lovely old building and people in the village are desperate to see it continue as a pub.”

Parish council chairman Peter Brand added: “We had the pub listed because we wanted to save it for the village, as it’s the only meeting place we have. There is no village shop so we all used to meet up far a chat in the Pinkuah Arms.

“If a tenant can be found to run it as a pub again, then the whole village will be delighted.”

The Admiral’s Head, Little Bealings

Rosario and Jazmine D’Angelo were in charge of The Admiral’s Head in Little Bealings, near Woodbridge, for more than eight years.

Despite offering a menu of traditional and modern Italian food in the refurbished Sandy Lane pub, an issue with the pub’s drainage system following nearby development led to the pub’s closure in July 2012.

Ironically for the D’Angelo’s the pub was today named in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2014 as one of 100 allegedly saved by way of “community assets”.

Mr D’Angelo said residents in the village rallied round in the immediate aftermath of the pub’s closure, but lamented it proved only to be a fleeting spirit of community camaraderie.

“They didn’t really care,” he said. “They got together for a short while but they don’t want to save this pub. I have to admit it was surprising.

“Even if they did save it most of them wouldn’t bother coming in. They just wanted the village to have a pub.

“We have no hopes now of getting the pub back up and running.”

The Rose and Crown, Beck Row

A Suffolk pub is under going a major redevelopment after the community fought to keep it open.

The Rose and Crown in Beck Row, near Mildenhall, was bought from Greene King by new owners earlier this year.

Last year the parish council had under the Localism Act listed the pub as a community asset after the Bury St Edmunds-based brewer wanted to turn the site into homes.

But the asset listing had to cease before new owner Wanda Betts and her husband Tony could purchase the pub.

She said: “We are going to have to decide if a company will come in and take it on or whether we do it. We decided to keep it as a pub - it’s a family-run business which we are not doing for any other reason. It’s an asset we believe for local people.”

The building work will see two chalets and a house built on the site as well as new extensions to the pub.

Greene King declined to comment on the pub’s history.

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