‘Devastated’ residents of a Bury St Edmunds estate are mourning the loss of their social hub – ‘a true community pub’ that served as a meeting place for young and old.
Time was called on The Priors Inn on Sunday, but not before its landlords, Ray and Jayne Chapman, staged an event for all those wishing to say goodbye. Around 200 people turned out to mark the occasion.
“It was all very emotional,” said Mr Chapman.
“Words can’t express how we all feel,” said Janice Scott.
“The Priors was the heart and soul of every person who, over the decades, ever walked through the doors – now that’s all been taken away from us.”
“In my 49 years I have not seen so many people’s lives turned upset down,” she added.
Of the ‘tragic loss’, Jenny Jackson said: “Now the heart of the community is gone The Priors estate has nothing, not like all the other estates – no shop, no takeaway, no community centre, nothing – and now our meeting place for young and old has been sold. Sunday was a devastating sad day for all.”
Tracey Strand said people’s lives had been ‘shattered by the closure’.
“The pub served as a meeting place for a diverse number people from different walks of life who, having entered the door, were made to feel welcome. A second home to a few widowers and single people who may have never seen another soul without the friendship of Ray, Jayne and other regulars.”
Earlier this week, Greene King, which owns the pub in Priors Avenue, confirmed a sale on it had been agreed and yesterday Havebury Housing Partnership confirmed that it was the buyer.
Karen Mayhew, Havebury’s Chief Executive, said: “I can confirm that we have purchased The Priors Inn from Greene King and we understand that the neighbourhood will be upset by its loss. Havebury is committed to providing homes to meet the needs of the community and our discussions about how best to redevelop the site are still in the very early stages. Once we have something drawn up we will share our plans with local residents.”
Kev Gaught said: “I think that anyone in the cold light of day could see that the Priors Inn pub (sited on one of the largest plots of land of any public house in Bury) was clearly too large for the regular trade it enjoyed (a regular trade that many of the other pubs in the town envied) and was ripe for development.”
Tony Creman, who held his wedding reception at the pub last year, said: “It was an honour and a privilege to meet and become friends with so many people who used The Priors pub as a meeting place. I have lived on the estate for 28 years and been an patron of the pub for 12 and to say it was one of the last proper pubs in the town is an understatement.”
“It’s a disgrace to our heritage,” said Rob Graham.