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Pub closed for nine years to reopen after £1m revamp

PUBLISHED: 13:12 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:50 20 January 2020

Ivor Braka outside The Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham which is being completely renovated. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Ivor Braka outside The Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham which is being completely renovated. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Gunton Arms owner Ivor Braka is preparing to reopen a rural north Norfolk pub later in the year after a £1m revamp.

Business partners Stuart Tattersall, Ivor Braka and Simone Tattersall outside The Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham, which is getting a new lease of life with a complete renovation. Picture: Neil DidsburyBusiness partners Stuart Tattersall, Ivor Braka and Simone Tattersall outside The Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham, which is getting a new lease of life with a complete renovation. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, near North Walsham, has been closed for nine years.

It is located opposite Gunton train station on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line, and Mr Braka said a van could run every hour connecting his two pubs, which are less than two miles apart.

MORE: The best 20 pubs in Norfolk as rated by CAMRA

Mr Braka, who is an art dealer, said: "It's going to be exciting. It was a very popular pub before it closed. It had a longer bar than normal, which people loved, and I'm going to continue that.

The Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham is getting a new lease of life with a complete renovation. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe Suffield Arms pub at Gunton near North Walsham is getting a new lease of life with a complete renovation. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"We are looking to reopen after the summer."

He has spent upwards of £1m on the refurbishment, which has included a new walled garden.

He said: "We wanted to preserve the neat symmetry of the original building and you can hide the extension behind the walled garden. It's also needed for shelter.

"The appearance of the pub is going to very traditional. The food will be different from the Gunton Arms. It will be more Mediterranean, especially Spanish, with tapas.

Ivor Braka bought the former Suffield Arms pub in 2016.  It's due to reopen later this year. Picture: MARK BULLIMOREIvor Braka bought the former Suffield Arms pub in 2016. It's due to reopen later this year. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

"We won't have bedrooms so there will be less staff than the Gunton Arms. The pub will probably seat 75, so we are looking at 16 to 18 staff, and we hope to open every day. "

Mr Braka is a keen supporter of pubs, and added: "I believe in pubs. The parish church and village pub used to characterise England for foreigners and locals. And while church-going is diminishing, even with the draconian drink-drive laws, people will still go to a nice pub.

"My vision of hell would be if towns and villages were better known for Starbucks, coffee chains, internet cafés and pub chains. That would be a tragedy on the high street."

The Suffield Arms has been a pub since at least 1889, and villagers enjoyed walking to it across countryside, whereas the Gunton Arms was beside a dangerous road with no footpath.

Work is ongoing at the Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, which will reopen later this year. Picture: David BaleWork is ongoing at the Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, which will reopen later this year. Picture: David Bale

The Gunton Arms was chosen as Michelin Pub of the Year in 2013.

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