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Historic pub’s future in doubt after brewer puts it up for sale

PUBLISHED: 17:28 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:23 04 January 2019

The Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

The Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A historic pub named after Lord Nelson has been put on the market, throwing into doubt the prospect of it ever re-opening.

The Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

The Lord Nelson pub in the legendary admiral’s home village of Burnham Thorpe has been put up for sale by owner, Suffolk-based brewer Greene King, who closed it down in 2016 after a row with the former landlords Debbie and Peter De Groeve.

A Greene King spokesman said: ”We have informed Burnham Thorpe’s parish council and the local community of our decision to put the Lord Nelson on the market.

“We now hope to find another operator who is better able to support the pub’s future by purchasing the freehold.”

The brewer had previously hoped to re-open the pub itself with a new landlord and last year applied for permission to extend and alter the building, which was opened in 1637.

The Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Nelson pub at Burnham Thorpe. Picture: Ian Burt

MORE: Norfolk pub where Nelson drank closes

The Friends of Burnham Thorpe group registered the pub as an asset of community value in 2016, so will keep some control over the building’s future.

Spokesman David Black said:” We were surprised to hear that the pub is now for sale, but at least it’s an opportunity for it to move forward.

“We’d love someone to buy it and get it back up and running as a pub, while keeping it’s unique historic feel. But we know that, although it is a wonderful pub in a great location, many pubs are shutting because they can’t make a profit these days.

“The other alternative is that the community buys it - but we are a tiny village with a population of just 120 so raising the funds would be really hard, especially if we had to bid against someone else.”

Bailiffs outside The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe in 2016, when the pub closed. Picture: Ian BurtBailiffs outside The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe in 2016, when the pub closed. Picture: Ian Burt

MORE: Pub where Nelson drank in Norfolk still looking for tenant

Mr Black said the pub would need extensive renovations after sitting empty for two years.

He said: “Then just like anyone else, we would have to make sure it was not making a loss.

“It would be a huge challenge, so although we’d love the village to own it, we are realistic about what that would mean in practice.

“Many people have strong views about the issue so we’re having a meeting this weekend to try to hear those views and get a feel for what, if anything, the community should do next.”

The pub sign was taken down outside The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe when it closed in 2016. Picture: Ian BurtThe pub sign was taken down outside The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe when it closed in 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Black said he welcomed the public’ views by email to burnhamthorpelordnelson@gmail.com. He said: “We’d be very happy to hear as many thoughts as possible at this stage.”

A rich history: The Lord Nelson

Originally called The Plough, the pub was named after Nelson in 1798.

The re-naming was done in order to celebrate his victory at the battle of the Nile, and the pub was the first of many across the country to take the admiral’s name.

Nelson was born a stone’s throw away from the Walsingham Road pub, at the nearby parsonage, in 1758.

The naval hero frequented the pub when he returned to the village in the 1780s and 1790s.

The tiny pub still contains the same long benches, called settles, Nelson sat on, as well as its original stone floor.

It had no bar, with real ales being served from a tap room.

When the pub was closed, county court bailiffs were called in amid allegations previous tenants removed historical artefacts.

But they told this newspaper at the time they had not removed anything that did not belong to them.

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