First look: New landlords bring revamped Ipswich pub back into the community
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A popular community pub in Ipswich will welcome back customers again after undergoing a complete refurbishment following its sudden closure.
The Earl Kitchener pub in Hadleigh Road closed shortly after Christmas after its previous landlord said he could no longer afford to keep it open.
The pub has been disused ever since but will reopen its doors today under new landlords and friends turned business partners, Clive Woodard and Denis Prendergast.
The pair, who both live in Ipswich, were handed the keys just two weeks ago and discovered a completely empty pub when they first walked in.
They have now refurbished the premises, giving it a lick of fresh royal blue paint.
Mr Woodard, 59, said the focus had been on reopening the pub for the community as quickly as possible, prioritising the main bar, toilets and lighting.
He said work will be ongoing to get the pub complete, but for now they will be serving drinks only.
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“The community has been really upset about the pub’s closure,” said Mr Woodard, who worked for a medical device company.
“People have been so eager to come in, so it is a really exciting time.
“We have completely smartened up the pub, but there are still some bits to do.”
Mr Woodard had planned on having an easy retirement when he left his job at 57, but woke up one day and decided he wanted to run a pub.
It was then a conversation over a pint with his friend Mr Prendergast which led to the pair becoming landlords of the Earl Kitchener, after originally hoping to take over the Grinning Rat.
Mr Prendergast, 62, has previously run pubs in London and was also the landlord of The Margaret Catchpole in Ipswich’s Cliff Lane.
He has spent the last 11 years as a night manager at Asda.
Mr Woodard said their friends had called them “barking mad” for taking over a pub in the current climate, but they wanted to stop it being knocked down and at risk of being turned into flats.
He said: “It is a big pub with a nice community feel so it would be a shame to let it lie dormant any longer.
“Obviously the pandemic has changed everyone’s lives, but I think a lot of it is for the better. We like each other more now than we used to and we are more kind.
“So I thought, let’s give it a go, why not?”
The pair are hopeful that the refurbishment will also help attract some different clientele once restrictions ease further and things return to normal.