Runham villagers say cheers to their pub for a day

At first glance it might appear to be just an ordinary - albeit substantial - village home.

However, as Loyd Grossman of Through the Keyhole fame would say, 'the clues are there' to its former use... as Runham's Three Horseshoes pub.

The bar is still a feature of the living room and the hatch window through which the off-licence once operated has been preserved; traditional wooden seating has less obviously been retained under clutter in the study.

Left without a pub since landlord Robert 'Lobby Lud' Howes called time in 1969, villagers in the Broadland community near Great Yarmouth are eagerly looking forward to the one day in the year when Runham House becomes The Three Horseshoes again.

Following their Harvest Festival service in Runham Church at 5pm on September 17, villagers will be queuing up for the 6pm opening time and lingering long after midnight last orders.

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Retired headteacher John Poulter, 65, had the idea of turning his home into 'a fantastic pub, but one with lousy opening hours' as a way of bringing the community together.

He said: 'Runham could easily just be a commuter village. We have not got a pub or a shop; there is literally nothing in the village except the hall that is not used much.

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'We decided that opening the pub in this way would bring the village back to life one day a year.'

The first occasion it happened in 1998 - two years after Mr Poulter and his wife Jean moved - tied in with the village fete.

In subsequent years, the special opening has been to celebrate Harvest Festival and raise money for the restoration of the village church.

Mr Poulter said: 'It is the shortest sermon the Rev Graham Steel delivers through the year; everyone wants to get down here.'

As well as beer provided by Great Yarmouth's Blackfriars Brewery, women from the church serve a Harvest supper.

The special licence obtained by the Parochial Church Council limits the 'pub' to 80 revellers, but Mr Russell, who was head at Gorleston's Cliff Park Middle School for 12 years, reckons 120 people pass by during opening hours from 6pm to midnight.

He said: 'They want me to open every night. It is the only time they can walk home; otherwise they would have to go to Filby or Stokesby.

'There are four retired farm workers who come, who used to drink in the pub, and I can never get rid of them; they talk and talk until 4am.'

Affectionately describing them as 'his regulars', he said six people came by minibus from Martham every year.

PCC secretary and treasurer Bobbie Walsh, who applied for the licence, said the church and pub were both village institutions and the special Harvest Festival was a 'fantastic idea'.

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