Can Newport survive in the 21st century?

A BRAISHIELD pub is likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Fuller’s, which owns the Newport Inn, say it is looking at “various options”, but hopes to confirm early next year what will happen to the pub.

The brewery says the popular, award-winning inn, renowned for its traditional ploughman’s and old fashioned sing-alongs with landlady, Janet Cook, at the piano, is likely to undergo major changes to bring it into the 21st century before another pint is served.

The pub, in Newport Lane, closed after Mrs Cook, who had worked at the pub for more than 40 years, died in October.

A Fuller’s spokesman said: “The pub tenancy is still with executors of Janet’s estate and we are liaising closely with them and are obviously looking at what happens next.

“Unfortunately, this is far from a straightforward decision. Much of the appeal of the Newport Inn was created by Bernard and Janet Cook and also the fact that it had been largely untouched for a number of years. Significant investment is now required and we are in the process of assessing all the costs.

“Of concern, although somewhat inevitable, is that whatever lengths we go to, the character and much of its current appeal will change.”

He added: “With two other pubs in Braishfield and the need to develop what would have to be a more food-orientated business, one does have to look at the investment required and also question the pub’s viability. It is these questions that were are currently wrestling with.”

Braishfield Parish Council chairman, Mike Prince, said rumours about the pub’s future were rife in the village.

“The parish council has concerns about what is going to happen to the site if it is not a pub. At the moment, there’s an awful lot of speculation in the village about the Newport’s future.

“The Dog and Crook is privately owned and very successful and the Wheatsheaf is getting busier all the time, which is very encouraging. Where the Newport is going to fit into all this, I don’t know.”

He agreed the pub would need major investment to make it viable.

“It would be very sad to see the pub go, because it is a big part of the village’s history and has been in the Cook family’s hands for so long,” he added.

- The Newport was always a popular venue for festive carols with Michelmersh Silver Band at Christmas. This year, the band will play at the Wheatsheaf Inn on Thursday, December 19, at 7pm.

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