December 8 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Monday, October 7, 2013
A traditional town centre pub served its last pint at the weekend to make way for builders that will turn it into flats and a shop.
Workmen are expected to begin transforming The Railway Tavern in Holt this week, as part of plans that will also see four new homes built behind it.
Developer Capricorn Estates agreed to let landlord Tony Groom keep the pub open until his retirement on Monday when he turned 65, and over the weekend regulars gathered at the much-loved inn for a final round.
Customers enjoyed a farewell “party” on Saturday and returned on Sunday - its last day of trading - to watch the Norwich vs Chelsea football game.
Mr Groom, who has run the grade two listed pub since 2009, said he felt “sad” over the plans for the building’s future.
“It’s basically a community hub and when it closes it will leave a hole in the community,” he added. “People will find somewhere else to drink but I defy anyone else to find a pub like The Railway Tavern in Holt.
“Our clients use us as a base to raise funds for local charities.”
Regulars at the pub had fought to keep it open, since plans to develop it were submitted last October. But, after some amendments, the scheme was approved by the district council.
Rupert Kirby, from Capricorn Estates, stressed he had accommodated the wishes of Mr Groom to keep the pub open until his retirement and been “very straight” with him and councillors.
He said the development would take about a year to complete and although there would be internal alterations on the pub’s first floor to accommodate the flats, changes to the front of the building would be “relatively modest”.
He added that the building’s ground floor, which has been earmarked for a shop, will be further determined once the homes are completed.
“It depends on what interest there is when it’s all ready but it’s not going to look exactly the same as the Railway today,” Mr Kirby added.
Mr Groom will continue to live in Holt’s town centre but said he “did not know” where he would drink now in the town.
He added: “But I have a free bus pass so I will be out and about.
“A big thanks to everyone who has supported us out the years but sorry we have failed to keep the pub open for you. We fought a good fight but lost. I have no axes to grind with anyone and I understand that Mr Kirby is a businessman.”