Saffron Walden pub saved from closure receives national award

The Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) committee celebrate the pub's opening in April 2021

The Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) committee celebrate the pub's opening in April 2021 - Credit: Celia Bartlett Photography

Campaigners who spent four years try to buy, refurbish and reopen a Saffron Walden pub have won a national award.

Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) has received a runner-up Pub Saving Award from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Dave Kenny, STRAP chair and founder, campaigned to save the pub from complete closure in 2017.

He said the award is recognition for his team and their work to set up a community-owned venture, which opened in April 2021.

Railway Arms punters celebrate the Saffron Walden pub's first anniversary in October 2021

The Railway Arms on its first anniversary in October 2021 - Credit: The Railway Arms

Dave said: "Many people contributed many, many hours to save and open The Railway.

"It's still hard to believe that the purchase of the pub was just 15 months ago in October 2020, and that the pub has still not been open for a full year.

"The future of Saffron Walden's first community-owned pub is secured and exciting.

"We hope that the community will benefit from The Railway Arms for many years to come."

The Railway Arms came second to The Blue Bell Inn in Stoke Ferry, near Downham Market in Norfolk.

Paul Ainsworth, the coordinator of the CAMRA awards, said: "This year’s winners both have long journeys behind them.

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"They are two examples of superb campaigning to save beloved community pubs - only made more difficult due to the coronavirus restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021.

"It just goes to show what can be achieved when a community bands together to make a difference, and we are excited to see what is next for The Blue Bell and Railway Arms."

A Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) event in the Market Place, Saffron Walden

A Save The Railway Arms Pub (STRAP) event in the Market Place - Credit: STRAP

The north-west Essex CAMRA group said that it is proud of what Dave and the STRAP team have achieved.

A group spokesperson said: "Having submitted the nomination for The Railway Arms, we as a branch are extremely proud that the pub is runner-up in this prestigious national competition.

"It reflects the hard work, commitment and persistence of Dave and his committee in their successful campaign, and its success since opening."

To raise awareness of their campaign, STRAP members held pop-up pub sessions and stalls in the Market Place.

It has since held theatre events, musical performances and cider making sessions.