Landlord calls time on one of Barnstaple’s oldest pubs

The Cork and Bottle, Barnstaple High Street

The Cork and Bottle, Barnstaple High Street - Credit: Archant

‘Old face’ set to return to town in bid to make pub a success

The Cork and Bottle, Barnstaple High Street

The Cork and Bottle, Barnstaple High Street - Credit: Archant

One of Barnstaple’s oldest pubs is set to close on Sunday – with a former chef set to take over later in the week.

Landlord Damian Parker and wife Michelle are calling time on their three-and-a-half years at the Cork and Bottle, the last remaining pub in the High Street.

Mr Parker said increased rents, and a lack of support from brewery Star Pubs and Bars to improve the building, meant the pub was no longer financially viable for them to run.

He said: “The pub is falling apart; the wallpaper is falling off the walls, the roof leaks and the industrial kitchen is not fit for purpose.

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“Our figures have gone up every year but every year the brewery just puts the rent up.

“We’ve had so much fantastic support from local people and it’s been lovely but we just can’t make it financially viable.

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“We’ve had a fantastic three years here but enough is enough and we’ve had to call time.

“Not many landlords have stayed for as long as us; before us I think there were seven landlords in two years.”

The couple said they were moving on to take over a freehold at a pub in Glastonbury, Somerset and the Cork and Bottle is set to cease trading on Sunday, following a presentation to pool players who play their matches at the pub.

The pub has played host to a number of charity events over the years, including a firewalk for the Little Heroes Cancer Trust.

On Saturday, it is hosting a beard shave for the Everything Ellie charity from 7pm.

The Cork and Bottle is thought to date back to 1860, when it was known as the Fuller’s Arms. It was also known as the Braunton Inn and the Clarence. There is a listed cobbled road running though it, and a wishing well in the corner of one of the bars.

Star Pubs and Bars, part of Heineken UK, said it is currently looking for a new licencee to take over the pub.

In the meantime, the pub’s former chef Paula Milton is set take over next week.

Paula, who worked at the pub between 2003 and 2006, said she will be picking up the keys on Monday and hopes to re-open ‘on Wednesday or Thursday’.

She said: “I will be going in with a holding company at first but my target is to be able to take it on myself after 12 months.

“I know Barnstaple has changed over the years but I’m hoping a few of the old faces will come in and say hello.

“I’m hoping to be able to attract shoppers to come up that end of the High Street.

“It’s a gradual process and I’m in no rush, but my target is to try and turn it around in a year and make it a successful and social venue for both food and drink.”

Star Pubs and Bars has been contacted for a comment.

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