Last pub in Eye set to reopen

Residents in a north Suffolk town that has been left dry for three months are set to celebrate the reopening of their one pub this weekend.

The Queen's Head in Cross Street, Eye, was purchased back in January and closed on February 1 for extensive refurbishment.

It has been out of action for 10 weeks but opens tonight with a private party for town traders and those that have helped out on the revamp.

And the whole town can enjoy a beer festival taking place tomorrow from 5pm when the pub officially reopens.

Tessa Prior, the new owner, said she wanted to put the pub back at the heart of the community.

She said: 'We've got the grand opening on Saturday at 5pm with the beer festival. We'll have 12 different beers from around the country and we hope that the Campaign for Real Ale will come too.

'We will normally have Adnams and a guest beer but we thought a festival would be a good way to start. The festival will continue on Sunday with a hog roast from 1pm.'

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As a medieval market town surrounded by villages, at one point Eye was home to 22 drinking establishments.

In the mid-19th Century it still had 14 public and five beer houses, but by the outbreak of the Second World War that number had dropped to just 11, with the Red Lion, the last to close, pouring its last pint a decade ago. And even the Queen's Head has been in difficulties recently, closing for several weeks in 2009 until new temporary landlords were appointed by its previous brewery owners.

Mrs Prior, who also runs a Suffolk-based food business and a safari lodge in Zambia, said she was confident the town would be pleased with all the hard work that had gone into transforming the pub.

She has appointed a new landlady, Pamela Roper, to run the pub and employing five more local residents at the site.

She added: 'When we started investigating the building, it turned out the whole thing needed rewiring.

'We needed miles of cables. But it's a listed building and we managed to do it without impingeing on any listed building conditions.

'We haven't been able to decorate the outside yet, but we will eventually. The people have been fantastic – all the workers have been excellent.'

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