January 26 2015 Latest news:
Friday, January 24, 2014
New landlady Linda Johnson knows exactly what makes a good village pub – tasty food, real ale and a familiar face behind the bar.
And that’s what she’s promising to offer at the Crown Inn in Trunch, where she has moved with her partner, Ray Madham, 62.
The couple took over the Bateman’s owned building in October, and have introduced a simple menu with pub classics –cooked on the premises.
The quirky community pub is the sixth business for pub-veteran Mrs Johnson, 56, who has been in the trade on and off since the age of 25.
Born in Kings Lynn, the mum-of-two began her public house career in Hethersett, where her father worked as a firefighter.
The history of the Crown stretches back hundreds of years. Its first recorded licensee was John Norton in 1745.
It was first offered for sale under its present name in 1819, and was described as a flint house.
It was damaged by fire in 1941, but the owners continued to trade, replacing the thatched roof with a flat one, calling the one-story pub the Half Crown.
The present building was rebuilt in 1953 on the original foundations.
It was owned by the same family for more than 50 years during the last century, but was under different ownership as a freehouse until it was bought by Bateman’s Brewery about 10 years ago.
As the village’s only pub, and next to the church, Mrs Johnson said it has been well-used by the community.
From there she went on to run pubs across Norfolk, taking a break to raise her sons, Nick and Phil, who are now 28.
Mrs Johnson’s latest venture is at the heart of village life.
And its landlady relishes her new role.
She said: “We spent the last two years searching for something to run together and then this came up – it’s perfect.”
“There’s quite a lot of elderly people in the village but they all like a good time.”
And it’s not just locals who enjoy the pub’s cosy atmosphere and fine ales.
Ramblers, walkers and holidaymakers are always welcomed through its doors.
The building is filled with character, from its collectable ale pumps to the warm wood stove in the centre of the room.
And the ivy-covered pub always stocks real ales including Batemans XB, Batemans Seasonal, Greene King IPA and two guest beers.
But Mrs Johnson is well aware that pubs have changed in recent years and the business has got a lot more competitive.
She said always being there to welcome people has been the secret to their success.
“It’s easy just to stand there and expect people to come in, but there’s got to be a reason for people to return,” she said.
And it’s impossible to walk into the Crown Inn without making friends with the regulars.
The most loyal of these is 75-year-old Geoff Jackson, who has been going to the pub for 36 years.