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Landlord calls for more support for independent businesses on railway platforms, after closing the Railway Arms in Downham Market

In better days: Ian Pinches outside The Railway Arms in Downham Market, after it won the national CAMRA pub of the year award. Picture: Ian Burt

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A landlord who is quitting his family-run business after seven years, because of a proposed rent increase, has urged train companies to better support independent units on platforms.

The award-winning Railway Arms pub and the Fenland Express café, both on platform one of Downham Market’s train station, closed down earlier this week.

Ian Pinches said the rent increase “would have made the business no longer economically viable”.

He added: “It is all very sad... we would like to think all those involved now reflect on how they deal with small independent units on railway platforms to ensure they give real support to prevent this happening again.”

Customers have been expressing their sadness at the news, with Jenny Simpson saying: “You understand businesses closing when they are not doing well or are not well supported, but this place has won numerous awards.

“It was so much more than just a station café. It offered great coffee, a bacon sandwich or a Danish, a newspaper... it was also our waiting room, crammed full of books, and offered free wi-fi.

“And in the evening it was a cosy little pub. It’s totally unique and the users of the station, and local residents, both cherished it.”

Maria Taylor said she travelled from Downham Market train station rather than the nearer King’s Lynn station just for the wonderful bacon sandwiches, while James Bagge, from Stradsett, said: “Utter disaster... it was the one enterprise which attracted the rest of Norfolk to Downham.”

A spokesman for Great Northern, which runs rail services from Downham Market to Cambridge and London, said “a very modest rent increase” had been offered, after “several years without an increase”.

Are you reluctantly closing a much-loved business? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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