Freethorpe pub closes doors to customers
08:45 17 February 2014
(C) Archant Norfolk 2014
Villagers in east Norfolk are in the dark over what it happening to their local pub after it closed to customers for the second time in two years.
The Rampant Horse in Freethorpe ceased trading last month.
Despite attempts to contact the owners over the weekend, they were unavailable to comment - leaving residents unsure what the future holds for the 19th century pub.
There were fresh hopes for the freehold site, which dates back to the 1830s, when the last tenants took over in May 2012 after several weeks of closure.
Villager Stephen Smith, chairman of Freethorpe football club and vice-chairman of the village hall committee, said the young couple were enthusiastic and “threw themselves into the community” but people’s attitudes to going to the village pub had changed.
“They tried everything; food, a carvery, live entertainment, community events, all sorts,” said Mr Smith.
“When they first came to the village they got involved and even sponsored one of our football teams.
“Unfortunately, people just don’t use the pubs like they used to. Time’s have changed.”
Freethorpe once boasted a host of independent businesses, including three grocery shops, a bakers, working farms, a mill, and a slaughterhouse, “They’ve all gone,” said Mr Smith, whose father was the village blacksmith.
Jo Stone, who runs Freethorpe Post Office and Shop, said there had been no indication of plans for the pub, whether new tenants would move in or if it was destined to be sold.
“It’s sad when any business closes down,” said Ms Stone.
“We lost the garage a couple of years ago and now the pub, and nobody really knows what is happening going to happen with it.”
It has been estimated that a third of pubs in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston have shut in recent years, although there is also regeneration. Chef Mark Dixon, who was named EDP Chef of the Year at the 2013 Norfolk Food and Drink awards, recently breathed new life into the King’s Arms at Fleggburgh and the former Eels Foot pub in Ormesby is set to reopen this spring as a wedding venue.
What do you think about the future of the pub industry in Norfolk? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.