More than 100 pubs close down

IT'S time to back your boozer today, and help halt the decline of our pub trade.

Simon Tomlinson

IT'S time to back your boozer today, and help halt the decline of our pub trade.

A search through The Evening Star archives has found more than 100 pubs which have closed within living memory.

The catalogue of images can be seen in a special four page supplement today, which looks at the many changes that have taken place over the years.


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And the turbulent times are not just hitting old-fashioned public houses - bars are being affected too, with Yates's in Tower Ramparts, Ipswich recently boarded up.

For generations the public house was part of the neighbourhood, but with a weakening community spirit there are very few that survive as they did in the 1970s.

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And the economic crisis and fierce competition from supermarkets is forcing the hand of many establishments to evolve or die.

Shaun De Silva, president of Ipswich Barwatch, said: “It is a changing scenario. For every community pub that goes you have got a bar bistro and gastro pub coming up. There is always an element of modernisation.

“At the moment it is a very difficult financial climate for everybody. Supermarkets are one of the major causes of difficulties for the pubs at the moment. We can't compete with their prices.

“If you drive around town there are quite a few establishments with lease signs up outside. But the industry has probably flattened out now and seems to have averaged out.”

However, one Suffolk brewer has shown confidence in the market by making plans to install a brewery at the historic Tolly Cobbold building in Ipswich.

The Earl Soham Brewery aims to produce its first ale by Christmas and will be opening the adjacent Brewery Tap, in Cliff Road, to sell its beers.

John Bjornson, owner of the Earl Soham Brewery, said: “We did question whether this was the time to start another brewery but we have faith that the traditional beer won't suffer too much.

“I have noticed lots of bars with discount signs outside. There is nothing wrong with charging the right price and giving a good service.”

- Is the pub industry changing for the better or worse? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A brighter picture for Felixstowe:-

WHILE pubs in Ipswich are struggling to stay afloat at lease one in Felixstowe appears to be bucking the trend.

The landlord of the Half Moon in Walton High Street, Patrick Wroe, said his pub had retained a retro-style as a community pub - staying as a traditional meeting place for people rather than going over to a food-led business.

“The Half Moon is how pubs were 25 or 30 years ago, perhaps longer,” he said.

“Interestingly, our trade is up on last year, but if I knew the secret I would be running an empire!

“We have some jolly nice staff and just aim to be a friendly pub with a good atmosphere, somewhere people can come down and feel safe with no aggression, no swearing.”

Felixstowe has held on to its pubs - it has three alone in Walton High Street - over the years with no closures for more than 20 years.

Mr Wroe added: “We do wonder sometimes who is going to go in Felixstowe but as so often is the case, Felixstowe is bucking the trend.”

EVOLUTION is the key to winning the survival of the fittest battle between pubs and other alcohol-selling outlets, it has been claimed.

The president of Ipswich Barwatch believes creating a good atmosphere could be the secret to riding the tides of change.

Shaun De Silva said: “It is about keeping the ambience in the pub, giving the customer what they want and having good, honest trading.

“Customers are going to pick and choose where they go. You're not going to go somewhere that is run down. You need to keep the establishment in good condition.”

Mr De Silva, who is also landlord of the Brewers Arms in Orford Street, said he has converted part of his pub into a sports bar and added: “The industry has to move on and move forward. You have to change and adapt.”

FASTFACTS:-

A selection of pubs which have closed recently:-

- Waveney, Bramford Road, Ipswich

- Horse and Groom, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich

- Racecourse, Nacton Road, Ipswich

- Haven, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

- Harlequin, Stoke Park Drive, Ipswich

- Silver Star, Vernon Street, Ipswich

- Victoria, Civic Drive, Ipswich

- Premier Pool, Duke Street, Ipswich

- Neptune Snooker Club, Neptune Quay, Ipswich

- Great White Horse, Tavern Street, Ipswich

- Spread Eagle, Fore Street, Ipswich

- Old Bell, Stoke Street, Ipswich

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