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Landlord of 300-year-old pub reveals how adding B&B has helped it survive

PUBLISHED: 16:01 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:10 23 December 2019

Ben Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily Thomson

Ben Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily Thomson

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The co-owner of a 300-year-old pub has told why his business has had to diversify as it struggles to bring in punters over the Christmas period.

Trowel & Hammer pub in Norwich.  Photo: Bill SmithTrowel & Hammer pub in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

The Trowel and Hammer pub, in St Stephens Road, Norwich, lodged plans to extend its B&B back in September this year and co-owner, Ben Duraj, has said it's a decision they have had to make in order to survive.

After officially opening the B&B back in 2012 and due to its success, Mr Duraj hopes to add seven more bedrooms which will give them a total of 14 rooms.

He said: "We took this decision to make this a B&B, which is going very well, because pubs are struggling and everywhere seems to be closing.

"It's Christmas now and it should be a busy time this week, but it's been a bit quiet.

Ben Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily ThomsonBen Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily Thomson

"Since our B&B opened in 2012 it has gone really well, and it has brought customers in. People seem to prefer us for our parking and it's very central."

A family-run business for the last 15 years, The Trowel and Hammer has welcomed drinkers since the very beginning of the 1700s, operating under a variety of names, from The Spittle House to Finnegans Wake.

If plans are approved by Norwich City Council the extension will take place at the top of the building located at the back of the pub, but the owners said it will not affect the carpark.

Mr Duraj added: "We are a family run business and we work long hours to keep going. Me and my brother are here from morning to evening.

"It's been very quiet, so we are happy we have made the decision to go ahead with the extension to the B&B."

With pubs struggling all over the country, Mr Duraj says pubs must do what they can to survive and he blames the rise in alcohol prices and the economy as one of the reasons for driving customers away.

"The price of alcohol in pubs affects people coming in because the breweries put their prices up, so we have to put our prices up," Mr Duraj said.

"People aren't going out as much anymore. It's not just us everywhere pubs are struggling so I'm hoping the planning will be approved and we will go from there.


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