LICENSEES are calling time on rural pubs – a Chronicle investigation found landlords on the brink of financial crisis and pubs like The Market House in Malpas, the Fox & Hounds in Tilston and the Nags Head in Farndon boarded up.
The crisis is being blamed on rising brewery rents, maintenance costs and duty on beer – and sales plummeting.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association, UK pubs are closing at a rate of 27 each week. The current closure rate is seven times faster than in 2006 and 14 times faster than in 2005.
Many pubs are prevailing through the difficult financial climate by diversifying into food and entertainment.
However, CAMRA Chester & South Clwyd branch laments the decline of the humble village pub, saying: “The problem with so many of our area’s Cheshire village inns is not the absence of real ale but their seemingly endless conversion into what are, to all intents and purposes, restaurants masquerading as pubs.
“The fact many pubs have to go down this road to survive is sad but inevitable.”
Combined with the closure of post offices and grocery stores, the plight of pub landlords is further evidence that rural villages are fast losing vital community services and social gathering points.