A well-known country pub and eaterie has closed suddenly, sending shock waves through the area.
The Derby Arms in Thornley, near Longridge, closed its doors after calling ‘time’ on Monday last week.
Leaseholders for the past 15 years, Will and Carole Walne – successors to the long-running Walne family proprietorship of the pub – said failure to agree new lease terms with owners Punch Taverns led to the decision.
However, in its statement on the closure, the brewery insisted they were still in talks with the family.
Their statement read: “We can confirm that the Derby Arms is temporarily closed and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.
“We are working closely with the licensees to reopen the pub as soon as possible.”
But Will Walne said: “We have closed and don’t intend to open, whatever Punch Taverns says.”
The couple issued the following statement on their decision, “It is with great regret that Will and Carole Walne have announced that the Derby Arms at Thornley has ceased trading, having been run by the Walne family for 29 years, with connections going back to the 1890s.
“The current lease expired on June 30 this year and in the 15 years that Will and Carole have been the leaseholders, the pub has changed ownership several times, involving different pub companies, the present owner being Punch Taverns.”
Will said: “Despite lengthy and detailed negotiations over the last nine months, it has not been possible to reach agreement on a further lease on terms which would allow us to run the pub profitably and with confidence that our plan for the future would be delivered.
“Given this considerable uncertainty, we felt it was only fair to our staff and customers to take prompt action, rather than compromise the high standards for which the Derby Arms is renowned.”
He added “The worst aspect for us is having to release so many loyal and hardworking staff, some of whom have worked for us for over 28 years.
“We have tried to keep them fully informed, and their reaction has been supportive and positive.
“At the Derby Arms, we have been proud to be part of the local community and of the many friendships we have made.
“While this is the sad end of an era, we very much wish to build on our experience, local support and the tremendous feedback from customers by taking forward some of our exciting ideas for the future.”