Couple devastated to pull last pint at much-loved pub

LANDLORDS at an historic �Barking pub say they are devastated after being forced to leave �after 11 years due to a rent hike.

While the The Crooked Billet, which many feared would shut for good, will continue �trading, Ellen and Michael McClean will no longer be the familiar faces behind the bar.

Ellen, 57, said she was relieved to hear it would remain a pub but that she was “devastated” to be leaving. “The new owners have increased the rent a lot so we can’t afford to stay,” she said.

“But we really don’t want to go. We’ve loved �running this pub. The regulars are fabulous and have been so supportive since we found out we might have to leave. We’ll really miss them.”

But the McCleans, who held a farewell bash at the pub on Saturday, admitted that trade has been slow over the past couple of years.

Ellen said: “We don’t get as many customers as we used to. I think the recession has had a big impact.

“A lot of people can’t afford to go to the pub now and buy cheap alcohol at supermarkets and drink at home instead.

Most Read

“It means more and more pubs are shutting down across the country, which is really sad.”

The pub, which has stood in River Road since 1929, was put up for sale last spring and residents were worried it could, like many other pubs across the country, be knocked down or turned into flats. But its new owners, Romasave Property, which bought the pub from Enterprise Inns brewery, say it will remain open, only closing briefly for �refurbishment.

Asked about the rent increase, a spokesperson said: “The amount is normal for a pub of that size. The reason the rent was lower before was because the pub was tied to a brewery forcing the publicans to buy alcohol from them at hiked up prices.”

The future may look bleak for the British pub trade but Ellen and Michael have no plans to change career. “We’re on the look out for another pub,” Ellen said. “We love this job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”