Ipswich pub bucks economic gloom

DESPITE gloomy predictions for the future of Suffolk's struggling pub trade, an Ipswich landlord today told how his burgeoning boozer was bucking the trend.

Josh Warwick

DESPITE gloomy predictions for the future of Suffolk's struggling pub trade, an Ipswich landlord today told how his burgeoning boozer was bucking the trend.

Although Mik Stoddard admits The Golden Hind in Nacton Road is not immune to the current industry woes, he said he and partner Pat Comber have enjoyed the benefits of a loyal customer base.

Mr Stoddard, 48, said his pub had a “fierce reputation” when he took over two years ago but he had managed to restore its community feel - despite enduring a baptism of fire.

“On our first night, 16 people were ejected,” he said.

“Our first year was spent as trouble shooter managers and when we took over the pub had been closed for a couple of weeks.

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“It was not being respected by the people who were working here or by the customers. But despite it being a right pig sty, we instantly loved it.”

Refurbishments were carried out with the aim of reintroducing a traditional pub ethos.

In the last 12 months, a number of the county's watering holes have called last orders amid stiff competition from supermarkets, increased duty on alcohol and the crippling effects of the smoking ban.

But Mr Stoddard said: “Keeping a pub like this is of huge importance. We are keen the pub is seen as a focal point of the community.

“We are finding that our old customers who had previously felt intimidated about drinking here are coming back into the pub.

“This game isn't what it used to be. We don't do the job for the money - we are just passionate about it.”

The Golden Hind was one of eight estate pubs built in the 1930s which followed a similar grand design and became known as the Tolly Follies. Seven were built in and around Ipswich and one - also called the Golden Hind - was built in Cambridgeshire.

Mr Stoddard said: “I grew up next to the Golden Hind in Cambridge so I know the heritage of these pubs.”

Do you fear for the future of the pub industry? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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