An award-winning micropub located on platform one of Downham train station has closed after a rent increase.
The owners of the Railway Arms, which was named Camra’s cider and perry UK pub of the year in 2013, and the adjoining Fenland Express café have closed both businesses, just months after it won a regional Camra award.
The move came as rumours that a Costa Coffee will open up on the site circulated in the town.
A statement which was displayed at the pub on Monday (October 24) said: “The Railway Arms and Fenland Express are closed. Further to a proposed rent increase, which we regard as excessive and which in our view would adversely affect the viability of the business, we have reluctantly taken the decision to cease trading with immediate effect.
“We wish to thank all of our customers and staff (past and present) for their loyalty and support over the past seven years.”
A spokesman for Great Northern said: “We were surprised and saddened to learn, earlier this week, that the tenant at Downham Market station handed back the keys to their unit. It was our understanding that negotiations were underway via our managing agent, and a very modest rent increase was offered.
“After several years without an increase, we wanted to work with the tenant to ensure he stayed, as he is a valuable asset to the local community. We would be very willing to talk to the tenant to understand why this offer was unacceptable.”
The spokesman was asked to elaborate on how much the rent increase had been but declined.
A number of people have expressed their upset regarding the situation, including GQ’s literary editor Olivia Cole.
She tweeted a picture of the statement and said: “A difficult start to the week. Searching for a bacon sandwich, very sad to find this news from #TheRailwayArms.”
She further said: “For anyone that didn’t have the pleasure, #TheRailwayArms was one of the UK’s few remaining platform micropubs, with a cafe, newspapers, and an honesty book bar. Please don’t say it sounds like it belongs in another century. That was part of the charm #SaveTheRailwayArms.”
Similarly, transport consultant David Emmerson tweeted: “Triple rent rise closes award-winning Downham Market station cafe and micropub. Bad day for privatisation & @GNRailUK @transportgovuk.”
Jenny Simpson, from West Dereham, said: “This place was more than a station cafe, it was full of character, warm and welcoming. We don’t want a faceless chain at our station – we want The Railway Arms.”