The Railway Arms awarded CAMRA county pub of the year

Graham Pearson (L) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, with Graham Darby (R), Essex Area O

Graham Pearson (L) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, with Graham Darby (R), Essex Area Organiser for CAMRA, as he presents the awards for CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 - Credit: © Celia Bartlett

An award-winning Saffron Walden pub is celebrating after being named the Essex CAMRA Pub of the Year.

The Railway Arms was presented with the award on Sunday, along with the Jack Hillier award for county pub of the year.

The community-owned pub was previously named North West Essex Pub of the Year in May, and will now go forward to the East Anglia competition - which is between pubs in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Customers and shareholders join Graham Pearson (CR) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, hi

Customers and shareholders join Graham Pearson (CR) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, his daughter Isla (C) and Graham Darby (CL), Essex Area Organiser for CAMRA, at the presentation of the awards for CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 - Credit: © Celia Bartlett

Manager Graham Pearson said: "We won two awards which was a bit unexpected.

"It's fantastic. It's a great achievement considering we've only been open for a year."

The Railway Arms was reopened in April last year following a prolonged community campaign, with Graham becoming manager in May.

Graham Pearson (R) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, and his daughter Isla, with Graham

Graham Pearson (R) Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, and his daughter Isla, with Graham Darby (L), Essex Area Organiser for CAMRA, as he presents the awards for CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 - Credit: © Celia Bartlett

Explaining the challenge of taking on the pub during the pandemic, Graham said: "Nobody was quite certain how it would go but it's been a great success and very well supported."

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Prior to the reopening, the pub was closed for more than four years. Campaign group Save the Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) was formed in 2013, with the community coming together and calling for the pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value.

CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 award and special Jack Hiller Award presented to The Railway Arms,

CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 award and special Jack Hiller Award presented to The Railway Arms, Saffron Walden - Credit: © Celia Bartlett

As part of the purchase, the pub was decorated, the ladies toilets were refurbished and STRAP bought new tables and chairs, as well as planting bulbs in the garden.

Graham said: "A lot of local people came together. From that came 500 other shareholders and they raised money and bought the pub, after it had lain empty and derelict for four or five years they brought it back to life.

"It's gone from derelict to Essex champion. The pub is doing really well and the signs are good for the future."

Graham Pearson Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, and his daughter Isla, outside the pub

Graham Pearson Landlord of the Railway Arms, Saffron Walden, and his daughter Isla, outside the pub with the awards for CAMRA County Pub of the Year 2022 - Credit: © Celia Bartlett

Prior to being named North West Essex Pub of the Year and then Essex Pub of the Year, the Railway Arms was a runner up in the Real Ale Campaign group's National Pub Saving Awards competition and was entered in the 2022 Good Beer Guide.

Since its reopening, the pub has hosted numerous events, including welcoming Ukrainian refugees into the community, Burns Night and the pub's own birthday celebrations.

For more information, or to book a table, go to https://www.railwayarms.co.uk/