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‘Last little pub in town’ set to close following lack of customers

PUBLISHED: 12:08 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:34 24 September 2020

Ann Cameron Smith, owner of the Cock Tavern in Downham Market, has announced she will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Ann Cameron Smith, owner of the Cock Tavern in Downham Market, has announced she will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah Hussain

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The owner of a Norfolk pub has announced she will be permanently closing at the end of the month following an “appalling” trading period.

The Cock Tavern sign created by J.D Signs. Picture: Sarah HussainThe Cock Tavern sign created by J.D Signs. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Ann Cameron Smith, owner of the Cock Tavern in Downham Market, said she will be retiring from the trade on September 30 after more than 25 years of running the business.

The 73-year-old made the decision to close the Lynn Road pub following a lack of customers this year, with regular meetings unable to go ahead because of the virus.

Miss Smith said: “It’s been a big part of my life but the circumstances are the way that they are.

“I have always got by with the local crib league, quiz team, committee meetings and all sorts of meetings but I can’t have any of those things and without them I have no customers.

The Cock Tavern in Downham Market will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah HussainThe Cock Tavern in Downham Market will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah Hussain

“It’s been appalling over this period.

“I have regulars in the older age group but they’ve told me they’re not coming out until it’s all over.

“It’s pointless opening in winter if I have no leagues and people won’t come out.”

The owner expressed her disappointment over the way she will close and apologised to her regular customers for not being able to “look after the place in the future.”

The Cock Tavern in Downham Market will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah HussainThe Cock Tavern in Downham Market will be closing on September 30. Picture: Sarah Hussain

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She added: “I might be old but I thought I’d have a few more years left.

“This year I was looking to do my crib team and things during the summer such as the annual beer fest which has been in conjunction with the Downham festival since 1995 - I would have liked to have seen my 25th beer fest out but that’s now never going to happen.”

Due to safety measures, the pub was only able to hold up to six people which Miss Smith said was unviable.

“I was never going to make a living out of that,” she added.

“At the moment I’m going to sit tight and work something out with the council to financially help me in the hope in a couple of years down the road someone will open the pub.

“I don’t want to make any hasty decisions. I’ve put a lot of work into it, it’s the last little pub in town and has been part of the community a long time.

“I did everything I could to make it Covid friendly, but there hasn’t been a thing over the past six weeks.”

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