Photos show Saffron Walden pubs which have closed in last 40 years
PUBLISHED: 08:41 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:47 25 March 2019
A campaign group hoping to open Saffron Walden’s first community pub have highlighted the establishments already lost to the town in the last 40 years to persuade residents to back the return of an “old-fashioned interactive pub scene”.
Saffron Walden Community Pub Ltd (SWCPL) was born out of a campaign group aiming to save the Railway Arms pub when it closed in 2017 and the company now has more than 250 shareholders.
Eight pubs in Saffron Walden have closed in the last 40 years, including The Victory, The Queen Elizabeth, The White horse, The Crocus, The Sun Inn, The Hoops and The Waggon and Horses, according to SWCPL.
The pub was originally a hotel and station manager’s residence, then a licenced premises from the 1860s until January 2017 when its current owners, brewers Charles Wells, decided to close it.
Campaign group Save the Railways Arms Pub (STRAP) was set up by current SWCPL chairman Dave Kenny and a few friends, and when a formal bid was made to buy the pub, SWCPL had 330 members on its mailing list and a committee of eight who meet fortnightly.
Over the last two years, the team have held regular pop-up pub events thanks to Tim Atkinson at Fairycroft House.
Barbecues, live music, pub quizzes, a games room and philosophy in the pub discussions have been well attended by locals who prefer the old-fashioned interactive pub scene.
Members of the committee have attended three national ‘More Than A Pub’ conferences over the last three years - a programme which brings together various government sources, trusts and charities to provide funding and support for community groups.
Representatives from community–run pubs around the country offer advice at the conferences based upon their struggles, problems, and ultimate success in taking over control of their locals as community owned pubs.
The concept goes beyond the basic food and drink offered by most commercial venues and some of the best examples use their buildings throughout the day for a variety of other social purposes. These might include day centres for mother and toddler groups, coffee mornings or a WiFi hub for the elderly residents.
The primary aim of a community pub, and for SWCPL, is to satisfy social and cultural needs by providing a welcoming and well-run venue.