Pub of the Week: The Bull in Fakenham

Vince Stewart, co-owner of The Bull in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt. Vince Stewart, co-owner of The Bull in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt.

Friday, May 2, 2014
10:49 AM

In our latest Pub of the Week feature, reporter ADAM LAZZARI writes about The Bull in Fakenham...

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The Bull in Fakenham.  Picture: Ian BurtThe Bull in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

When founder members of Fakenham Rugby Club Vince Stewart and Ian Harper bought The Bull, in 2004, they wanted to create a venue they would enjoy going to.

Traditionally furnished, selling quality locally-sourced food and real ales, with no loud music, fruit machines or sports on wide screen televisions, The Bull has developed a fine reputation amongst pub-goers in Fakenham.

Ten years on, despite numerous challenges, they are proud of what they have created and optimistic about the future.

Challenges have included the recession and changing drinking habits, but the friends, who are still involved with the rugby club, have come through with their heads held high.

Mr Harper, 45, said: “We felt at the time there were no pubs in Fakemham to suit people of our age or to offer what we wanted so we created the pub that we would like to drink in ourselves.

“We wanted to be more traditional, but modern at the same time.”

Wetherspoon opened a pub, opposite The Bull, in March last year. Mr Harper said: “We can’t compete with their prices, so we don’t try to. We just keep doing what we feel we do well.

“I think there was a bit of a drop-off in trade when they opened but things have picked up again.

“We are not quite as busy as we were at our peak, but Fakenham, as a whole, has become quieter in recent years.”

Mr Stewart and Mr Harper ran Fakenham Rugby Club’s bar before they bought The Bull.

Through this they have gone on to run the bars for Fakenham Racecourse for race meetings, Harley Davidson rallies and various other events and functions held there.

They still provide this service now through The Bull.

When Mr Harper and Mr Stewart took over the pub they spent £250,000 on a complete restoration of the premises.

They have decorated the interior with a contemporary yet sympathetic style.

There are plenty of sofas as well as seating at the bar and tables for eating and drinking.

The Bull regularly offers interesting guest beers.

Some of the ales and beers are from local breweries with awards and national recognition.

The Bull is renowned for its food, serving market day breakfasts on Thursdays, as well as lunches every day and holding grill nights on Wednesdays. The pub also offers B&B rooms and is known for its charity fund-raising.

Mr Stewart, 52, and Mr Harper looked to take on the baton from Mary Rumbold, the former landlady of The Star in Fakenham, who used to raise money for the RNLI before she died in September 2009.

They run an annual mighty mussels challenge where entrants will be challenged to eat as many bowls of mussels as they can to raise money for the Wells branch of the RNLI.

Collection boxes for charities including the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, Aid Africa, the NSPCC and Great Ormond Street Hospital are also on the bar.

Mr Stewart said: “We are both very much community people and we designed the pub with local people in mind. We are both proud of what we have achieved and proud of that fact that we are still here, holding our own, after 10 years. The goal now is to still be going strong, 10 years from now.”

Have you got a suggestion for this feature? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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