Pub closures, Suffolk dialect, objects in the sky - our review of your top reads during 2019
- Credit: JULIE WELLS
Which stories hit the headlines in 2019? Pub closures, a mystery object in the sky and Suffolk dialect were all in the news.
Holiday park tenants
News that almost 200 holiday park tenants at Stonham Barns had been left without a permanent home was revealed in March. More than 48,000 people read the report on our website, making it our most-read story of 2019.
At the time, some customers said they felt let down, as they believed they could live in their static homes permanently. But owner Alan Forward insisted the tenants had been told they could not live on site all year round. A second news report in October, about some residents receiving eviction notices, was viewed by 38,000-plus readers.
Pubs and tearooms
News stories involving businesses, including pubs and restaurants, also received huge interest.
Our report on the closure of well-known gastropub The Swan in Long Melford in September for the second time this year, just four months after it reopened in May, received 43,500 views. The pub has since reopened.
In November, we also reported on another historic village pub, The Oyster Inn at Butley, going up for sale, in a report read by 28,000 people. The pub, which was fully refurbished in 2017, is currently still on the market.
Slightly earlier this year, in July, we ran a story on Munnings Tearoom, in Lavenham's iconic Crooked House building, receiving a zero food hygiene rating.
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At the time, tearoom owner Everyl Madell expressed her upset over the inspectors' verdict, saying: "I don't think for a minute I deserved that rating." She revealed she planned to put the business on the market in 2020. The article was read by 33,000 people.
And TV chef Gordon Ramsay's mystery visit to a cafe near Bury St Edmunds in August was also viewed by tens of thousands of readers.
Shops giving staff a break
Still with businesses, social media users had their say over the fraught issue of whether shops should close their doors on Boxing Day to give staff a break. In November, when discount retailer Home Bargains announced it intended to shut all its shops for the day, more than 49,000 people saw the report via our Facebook page, with 1,500 reactions and 400-plus comments and shares.
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Later the same month, we also reported on a similar decision by discount supermarket chain Aldi, and again the story attracted widespread interest on Facebook. It was viewed by nearly 28,000 people, with 1,200 reactions. Our reader poll showed strong support for store closures over the holiday, with 89% saying stores should close, while only 11% wanted them to stay open.
Tragedy at famous pub
We have reported on a number of tragedies over the year, including the death of Irena Kuzmina, from Purfleet in Essex, at the Magpie at Stonham Parva, on the A140 between Ipswich and Norwich, in the early hours of November 10.
This tragedy struck a chord with readers and the report was read by 29,000 people. Police launched an investigation and a 52-year-old woman from Dagenham was arrested on suspicion of murder and later released on bail.
Many readers keep track of accidents and closures of major roads via our website and Facebook page. In November, we reported on Highways England's decision to close a stretch of the A14 for an unannounced reason, just as the Bury St Edmunds Christmas fayre finished its most popular day.
This story was seen by 31,000-plus readers, while another A14 closure story the same month, following an HGV smashing through the central reservation near Bury St Edmunds, was seen by 26,000.
Unusual and quirky events are often popular with readers. One of our most-read stories of the year, published during the last few days, was about a mysterious object seen in the skies over Suffolk on Christmas Day - with many thinking it was a fighter jet. The report, published on Boxing Day, was seen by 32,000 readers.
And our lighthearted report asking how many people use Suffolk phrases such as "sloightly on the huh", published in November, attracted a lot of interest on our Facebook page. It was viewed by 112,000 people and received 600-plus comments, 400 likes and 350 shares.