National praise for Southwold pub

The traditional seaside resort of Southwold is a place where few things really change. Now a pub treasured by residents and favoured by holidaymakers has won national praise by sticking to time-honoured values.

The traditional seaside resort of Southwold is a place where few things really change.

Now a pub treasured by residents and favoured by holidaymakers has won national praise by sticking to time-honoured values.

Yesterday staff at the Lord Nelson were drinking to the pub's success after being named among the country's top ten watering holes.

The pub, on East Street, received the accolade from The Good Pub Guide after glowing recommen-dations from customers and anonymous inspectors.


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It is now in the running to win the coveted Pub of the Year award, which will be announced when the 2008 guide is published on October 16.

Licensee John Illston, 57, has run the pub since 1989 but recently stepped back and handed control of the pumps to his daughter, Gemma Illston-Sanchez, and her husband, David Sanchez.

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"It is a bit of a shock but it is very pleasant to be recognised after all this time," said Mr Illston.

"I have had no input at all - it is all based on people writing in and a lot of that is to do with the way Gemma and David have managed the place."

"The important thing is consistency, so people know what they are going to get.

"We are a pub first - we have no background music, and we are not a restaurant with a bar.

Fisherman Nick Curtis is a pub regular who lives on his boat, the GK Evans, in Southwold harbour. He said that the enduring appeal of the "Nelly" was its ability to keep the townsfolk drinking along with yachtsmen and second homeowners from further afield.

"It is a mix all the way through, but it is almost classless," he said.

"The older fishermen still drink there on a Saturday afternoon or during the week, but if you go after 8.30pm you get a completely different crowd."

"John is one of the best landlords I have ever met. He knows everybody by name and what they drink, and he doesn't get involved in politics or religion.

"I've been going to the Nelson for 15 years and it has not changed at all. It is a pub where you know exactly where you stand."

Historically favoured by the town's fishermen, the pub now sells an average of 540 pints a day for its wide mixture of customers - most of it coming from Southwold's iconic Adnams brewery.

Mr Illston said: "I used to run the Victoria pub, which is now the Blue Lighthouse on East Street.

"It was the only non-Adnams pub in the town, but trying to sell beer in a Southwold pub that doesn't sell Adnams is very difficult. It has been a walk in the park after that."

Rupert Farquharson, of Adnams, said: "We are absolutely delighted for the team at the Lord Nelson.

"It is one of our busiest pubs and recognition by the Good Pub Guide is well deserved for all their hard work."

The Good Pub Guide, published by Ebury Press, is one of the UK's best-selling annual guides and celebrated its 25th anniversary edition last year.

It features independent reviews of the country's pubs, compiled from reports by readers and anonymous inspections.

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