Alnwick faces loss of three popular pubs

THREE locals in a Northumberland market town could soon be closed, with one boss revealing the difficulties facing pubs.

THREE locals in a Northumberland market town could soon be closed, with one boss revealing the difficulties facing pubs.

Alnwick has this week seen the closure of its popular Hairy Lemon hostelry.

The pub on Narrowgate shut on Sunday after owners Easteye Ltd decided to close it.

Formerly the Black Swan, the pub hit the headlines in 2001 when new owners Wessex Taverns announced the Hairy Lemon name.

A petition opposing the renaming had people in the town claiming it was inappropriate and not befitting a pub where poet Robbie Burns is once said to have stayed.

Supportive comments have been left on the establishment’s Facebook page since it closed.

The pub posted a status on the site saying: “As many of you have already heard the powers that be (the company that owns the Hairy Lemon) have closed the Lemon for trading.

“The Lemon crew would like to thank all our customers old and new for their custom over the years.”

Manager Charyl Matthews could not be contacted yesterday while Easteye failed to respond.

The boss of the Alnwick Gate has also admitted he is considering giving up his lease for the premises on Clayport Street.

His pub and the neighbouring Alnwick Arms are both currently being advertised as available by the company which owns them.

And last night, Kevin Fletcher, who runs the Alnwick Gate, spoke of the troubles of keeping a pub afloat. Mr Fletcher took on the lease from owners Trust Inns in August 2009 on a rolling one-year basis.

He admitted he has found it difficult making a living out of the pub, even though it is relatively busy, saying he has struggled with competition from supermarkets, people not being able to afford to go out, and high overheads.

Mr Fletcher cannot afford to employ any staff at the pub and runs it with his family. He said: “At the moment I have not decided one way or another. I find it very difficult to make a living. I am a busy pub and I am struggling.

“I do not know how other pubs cope. The traditional pub has gone.”

A spokeswoman for Trust Inns last night would only confirm that it owns the Alnwick Gate and also The Alnwick Arms, and that both are open for business.

Yet the two establishments are listed on the company’s website as available to interested parties.

The phone line to the Alnwick Arms, also on Clayport Street, was dead last night.


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