Pub clears up after car crash

A car careered into a Norfolk pub late at night, leaving a gaping hole in the main wall and debris scattered around the dining room.

A car careered into a Norfolk pub late at night, leaving a gaping hole in the main wall and debris scattered around the dining room.

The Swan Inn at Ingham, near Stalham, was closed yesterday after the midnight incident, but will be open for business today - although the restaurant will have fewer tables available.

The female driver of a white Vauxhall Astra initially left the scene but later phoned the authorities to say what had happened and will face a series of charges, including drink driving, when she appears in court next week.

Landlord Paul Thomas said his parents in law were the only people in the historic 14th century pub when the car hit - and they had been left badly shaken.

"They were upstairs asleep when it happened and of course they were terrified by the bang," said Mr Thomas.

"I gather the driver went off but later called the police to say what had happened.

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"There is now a gaping hole in our 700-year-old building. It is a tragedy.

"It hurts me to see so much damage to such a wonderful building, this place is full of warmth and character and has a long and important history."

Police, the fire brigade and a structural engineer were all called out in the immediate aftermath of the crash and a decision made to evacuate the building for safety reasons. A builder was called out in the early hours to put in some emergency supports help hold up the damaged wall.

Yesterday a number of checks were carried out to ensure the building was safe.

Mr Thomas said the pub used to be part of Ingham Priory and retained a number of features, especially in the cellar, which were from its time as a place of work and living for priests. The priory was destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII in the 16th century.

It is now a Woodforde's pub and well known locally for its high quality, cooked to order food and real ales.

"We have some great staff and they have been helping us clear up to get ready for our customers again," said Mr Thomas.

"This has been a pub for over 500 years and it would be a terrible shame if this all affected the pub.

"But we are determined to get back on track as soon as we possibly can."

The damage to the pub was at one end of the pub and has directly affected the dining room, whereas the other half of the building, where the bar and a number of tables are situated, has been untouched.

It is understood that the driver of the car was taken to hospital for a relatively short visit after the collision to be checked over.

The driver of the Vauxhall Astra will appear before Cromer magistrates on May 24, charged with drink driving, no insurance, no MoT and driving alone with a provisional licence.

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