Owners of a micro pub in Downham who recently announced its closure are to face a bittersweet moment later this month as they receive a prestigious award.
Ian Pinches, who ran the Railway Arms on platform one of Downham train station with members of his family, is to receive an award for reaching the finals of this year’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Cider Pub of the Year.
Mr Pinches is due to receive the commendation on Friday, November 18, less than a month after it was announced the pub had closed due to a rent increase.
He said: “This will be the third time in four years that we have reached the finals, which, if we say so ourselves, is not bad for a micro pub. If anyone can join us for the award-giving at the King’s Arms in Shouldham at 8pm, we would love to see them there!”
In the wake of the closure, the former pub owner has called for more support for independent units on station platforms.
Mr Pinches said: “If nothing else comes of it though, we would like to think that all those involved reflect on how they deal with small independent units up and down the line in order to ensure they give real and meaningful support to those small units on their railway platforms in order to prevent this happening again.”
He added: “It is all very sad – for our customers, our staff, for our supporters (CAMRA, local cider makers and brewers) and not least for the people of West Norfolk.”
The closure of the Railway Arms and the adjoining Fenland Express cafe was announced last week with signs at the premises claiming an “excessive” proposed rent increase was the reason.
But a spokesman for train operator Great Northern, which owns the site, described the increase as “very modest”.
A number of customers expressed their upset regarding the situation, including GQ’s literary editor Olivia Cole, who said the news was “very sad”.
Jenny Simpson, from West Dereham, said: “We don’t want a faceless chain – we want the Railway Arms.”
There has been speculation in the town that a Costa Coffee would open on the site.
However, the chain has so far declined to comment on the claims.