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Current climate ‘destroyed’ now-closed Downham Market pub, landlord says

A former landlord of a Downham pub which closed last month has said business rates, brewery prices and competition from a nearby chain “destroyed” it.

Brendan Morgan, proprietor of The Swan Hotel, who had run the business on High Street along with his wife Nikki for almost five years, closed the pub on Sunday, March 31.

He said the “current climate” with increasing business rates and brewery prices meant it was no longer viable to keep The Swan open.

Landlord of The Swan in Downham Market Brendan Morgan is unhappy at plans for a Wetherspoon in the town.. (8456858)
Landlord of The Swan in Downham Market Brendan Morgan is unhappy at plans for a Wetherspoon in the town.. (8456858)

Another factor was the competition from the nearby JD Wetherspoon pub, The Whalebone, which opened last year.

“Wetherspoon’s drinks are much cheaper than ours, we can’t compete with them,” Mr Morgan said.

“But if we don’t sell it at that price, we can’t break even. People are going to go where the beer is cheaper, and I don’t blame them, but it has destroyed the pub.”

Mr Morgan, who has worked in the trade all his life, and whose parents ran pubs in Ireland, said: “I am trying to surrender the lease to The Swan Hotel.

“Unless they come back and give us discount on the drinks, and I don’t think they will, then there’s no future.”

He added: “There’s no support from local councils or government.

“I wish people would open up their eyes in higher places and see what’s happening to this country, it’s a shocking shame.

“These people just don’t understand how small businesses are run.”

Mr Morgan continues in the pub trade, however, as landlord of The Bell Inn at Denver, where he has also been working for over a year.

He said this business is more viable, as it a private lease meaning brewery prices are cheaper.

A post on The Swan Hotel’s Facebook page ahead of its closure said it was with “great sadness that the time has come for us to say goodbye to The Swan Hotel”.

The post added: “We have made many lifelong friends over the last four and a half years and are so very grateful to those who have continued to support The Swan through the good and the bad times.

“We have had some amazing times here at The Swan Hotel and we will both miss it very much but, in the current climate, it is simply not viable for us to keep open.

“Thank you to all of you – we hope to see you again in the future, Brendan and Nikki.”

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