Thetford pub celebrates special anniversary
Rebecca Gough While many pubs are struggling to survive in a culture of recession one Thetford watering hole has bucked the trend to celebrate a very special anniversary.
While many pubs are struggling to survive in a culture of recession, one Thetford watering hole has bucked the trend to celebrate a very special anniversary.
Licensee Amanda Middlebrook moved into The Albion Pub on Castle Street with her family when she was just two years old.
Forty years later and she and her family celebrated the occasion with a party for customers and regulars.
Ms Middlebrook moved into the pub in 1969 and her parents, John and Eunice Middlebrook, ran it until they retired 14 years ago.
Now she and her partner, Hugh Mcgrath, and their three children, Tom, 14, Jack, 11 and Ruby, five, live above the pub.
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"My parents were from Sheffield originally and they came down because my dad worked for the council and got a job here," she said.
"Growing up in a pub has its good and bad points and I'm quite sentimental about it now, really. A lot of the regulars have been coming in since I've been here and the whole place goes back a long way."
John Middlebrook died a year after he retired, aged 66, while his wife died at 67, having run the pub until 1995.
On Saturday night, the building was packed with about 120 customers who celebrated Ms Middlebrook's 40th anniversary with live music and food.
Ms Middlebrook, 42, said: "There have been a lot of changes but the basic feel of the place has never changed.
"It's traditional and friendly and has a nice atmosphere. We've always had a reputation for being an old man's pub but we've always liked that because we never get any trouble.
"We haven't made too many drastic changes because people don't like change. I look back and, although it's been a lifetime, it doesn't feel like it.
"I don't know if my parents would be proud or think I'm completely mad, but I think they're with me in spirit."
Speaking about the recession, she added: "We've been quite lucky - we've managed to carry on without being affected too much, so we've obviously got something people
"It can be difficult in the winter months, but I think we've got a really good situation for the summer.
"Castle Park is over the road and parents let their children play and keep an eye on them from inside."
The pub, which has a games room and a beer garden in summer, serves two real ales and a variety of lagers, although it does not serve food. Ms Middlebrook said The Albion had also benefited from the smoking ban as it already had sufficient outside shelters.
She added: "I can't imagine doing anything else. There's a social side to it which I really like. You never get lonely and it's like a family. You get people who come in every day who you probably see more than their own family does."