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Village pubs in peril

Suffolk's village pubs are an endangered species, as are village pubs across the whole country. They face many challenges such as rural depopulation, supermarkets and other shops selling booze at pocket-money prices and greedy pub companies. The village pub is often the last facility left once the Post Office and village shop have closed; when the pub closes as well, it can rip the heart out of the village community.

Pub closures are nothing new, but the 20th and 21st centuries have seen a massive contraction in the pub trade and with it a huge increase in the number of villages without a pub.

There are 72 parishes in Suffolk where we have so far failed to find records of even a single pub (though in three of these we have unconfirmed suggestions that there may once have been a pub). In a Parliamentary answer of August 1907, Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone recorded that 100 Suffolk parishes (77 in East Suffolk, 33 in the West) had nowhere with an on-sales license.

At the time of writing (January 2015) there are 191 Suffolk parishes permanently without a pub (plus 14 where the last pub is currently closed but we still hold out some hope that it may reopen).

And many more villages are in danger of drying out; there are currently 198 parishes where only a single pub remains. Even those that are thriving at present can't be guaranteed to keep trading; it only takes a greedy company to spot that they can make a quick killing by building a load of homes on the pub and its land, and another pub can be lost. And just because a parish currently has several pubs, that's no guarantee it won't dry out; Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford once had eight pubs, but today not a single one remains open.

Dry parishes map

(click map to see larger view) Dry parishes map

Download time-lapse video

dry parishes graph

Parishes that have never had a pub

Parishes that are now dry

with last pub and when it closed (dates may be approximate as precise details aren't always available).

Temporarily dry parishes (Jan 2015)

Where we hope the last pub will reopen.