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End of the line for award-winning Downham Market pub

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An award-winning pub that featured on TV in ‘Great Railway Journeys of Britain’ and was the last stopping off point for thousands of thirsty rail customers has closed down, amid a row over rent.

A notice was posted this week on the window of the Railway Arms, on platform one at Downham Market train station.

In the note, the tenants of seven years, who also run The Fenland Express cafe on the platform, blamed the closure on a “proposed rent increase, which we regard as excessive, and which, in our view, would adversely affect the viability of the business”.

It comes just a year after staff at the pub were celebrating being named by CAMRA the region’s best cider pub of the year for the third consecutive time. Three years ago, it was named the best cider pub in the whole country by CAMRA.

Andrea Briers, East Anglian regional director for CAMRA, said it was a sad day. “I always enjoyed my visits to the pub,” she added.

The Railway Arms featured on ‘Great Railway Journeys of Britain’ presented by Michael Portillo in 2011. It was also spotlighted in the book Unusual Railway Pubs.

A spokesman for Great Northern, which runs rail services from Downham Market to Cambridge and London, said they were surprised to learn the tenants had handed back the keys to their unit.

“It was our understanding that negotiations were under way via our managing agent, and a very modest rent increase was offered,” a spokesman said. “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 community. We would be very willing to talk to the tenant to understand why this offer was unacceptable.”

Landlord Ian Pinches was unavailable for comment yesterday.

What’s your reaction to the pub’s closure? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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