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Pub next to railway station could be set for closure as manager looks to retire




A pub with 170 years of history faces an uncertain future as its long-standing manager prepares to pull her final pint.

Kings Arms Free House has traditionally attracted commuters popping in for a drink after arriving, or before departing, at the nearby Stowmarket railway station.

But reduced passenger numbers have left manager Elly White at the point of deciding to call time on a 45-year career, in which she has managed 10 pubs.

Elly White is to retire as landlady of the historic Kings Arms pub	Picture by Mecha Morton
Elly White is to retire as landlady of the historic Kings Arms pub Picture by Mecha Morton

She said: “It feels strange as pub work has been my life.

“During lockdown, I was thinking that life is too short and that I need to spend time with my family - which is why I have decided to stop.”

Mrs White is currently working by herself on reduced hours.

The pub’s one other member of staff has been put on furlough.

The owner of the pub has recently applied for permission to build six flats in the car park near to where the Kings Arms stands - but the pub building will remain intact.

No owner has yet been found to take over the running of the pub, meaning the building, which dates back to 1850, could close.

Elly White is to retire as landlady of the historic Kings Arms pub	Picture by Mecha Morton
Elly White is to retire as landlady of the historic Kings Arms pub Picture by Mecha Morton

Mrs White, 68, has worked in Stowmarket for 11 years. She added: “I am not sure what will happen to the pub, but both me and the owner are getting older.

“The pub opened as part of the station building. The railway was our main customer base, but since lockdown that has almost stopped and we are now much quieter.

“There has been no football, and no pub teams. Everything has been hit in our trade because of the industry, and it has been hard.”

Strong reaction from punters poured onto the pub’s Facebook page at the news Mrs White was to retire, with many saying they would be sad to see the pub go, and wishing her the best for a happy retirement.

Mrs White, who lives locally, will work her final day on October 31 and plans on staying in the Stowmarket area in her retirement.

She jokes that she had planned to travel the world with her sister, but is now going to be a tour of the country with their bus passes.

“It has been a wonderful time,” she continued. “The customers are amazing. It has been both the people and the pub itself that have kept me enjoying it.

“The clientèle is fantastic, they are kind of a family.”

n An application has been submitted to build six one-bedroom flats on the station car park. To see the application, search: DC/20/04051 on Mid Suffolk Council’s planning website.

Read more Stowmarket news, here.