Pub opens pop-up café with help from Pub is the Hub

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

New venture: Pub is the Hub's Terry Stork (left) celebrates with committee members
New venture: Pub is the Hub's Terry Stork (left) celebrates with committee members
The Duke of Marlborough pub has opened a new pop-up café supported and partly funded with £3,000 from Pub is the Hub (PITH) and its Community Services Fund.

The pop-up tearoom, which is situated in the pub’s dining area, in Somersham, Suffolk, will be available each Thursday from 2pm to 5pm, 

Its aim is to encourage local residents to use the space during the day to access community activities such as IT and social media training.

The pub is owned and operated by community group – Somersham Community Pub – which fought a two-and-a-half-year battle to save the pub from being sold for housing.

Valuable asset 

The venue, which reopened in spring 2017, has undergone a refurbishment and the group has explored ways to maintain the pub’s viability while improving local services.

PITH adviser Terry Stork said: “We are delighted to be able to work with Somersham on this project and support the fantastic work that they have already achieved in this area. They are very committed to bringing different aspects of village life together and maintaining the Duke as a valuable asset for many years to come." 

Maggie James from the pub’s committee said: “We entertained around 70 people in the café with an array of ages from nine weeks to over 90 years old along with lots of new faces. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great time was had by all.”

Helping pubs diversify

Meanwhile, PITH has been working with a variety of local councils to help pubs diversify.

It has been in a partnership with Wealden District Council since 2016 helping pubs in its area. The council recently praised the help of the organisation in its special newsletter dedicated to PITH. 

“It’s sad to say that, in recent years, pubs across the country have been struggling but PITH is a great opportunity for Wealden’s pubs, hand-in-hand with their local communities, to do something about this,” said councillor Roy Galley, portfolio holder for economic development and regeneration.

'Buzzing hub'

Frances Brace, a PR and marketing professional in the pub and beer sector who lives locally [in Somersham], has played a key role in the campaign to save the Duke of Marlborough, create its offer and get it up and running.

She said: “All of us on the committee have given many hundreds of hours to the project. There were times during the first two years when it didn’t look as though our efforts would come to anything. Imagine how it feels now to see the place as a buzzing hub of the community - and offering food, drink and events good enough to attract people from far and wide! It is fantastically rewarding.

“We’re lucky to have a brilliant manager, chef and waiting staff and some amazing volunteers who work behind the bar.  It all makes for a wonderful atmosphere, a hugely improved social life and a great contribution to the local economy.”

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