Leyland pub landlady’s heartbreak as she leaves her beloved The Railway following the pandemic and cost of living crisis

A Leyland pub landlady has spoken of her heartbreak about giving up what was meant to be her “forever job”.

By Laura Longworth
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:36 am

Anna Marie Andrew will hand the keys of The Railway at Leyland in Preston Road - known for hosting function events and weekend DJ sets catering to night-time drinkers - back to brewery Heineken on Thursday, June 30.

The 48-year-old says the brewery will bring in a temporary landlord to take over the venue.

Anna Marie, who also runs the Fox & Lion and Wheatsheaf pubs in Leyland, has been forced to let go of her beloved business after four years of running it due to the pandemic and cost of living crisis.

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Anna Marie with her late husband, Jim.

Commenting on the plight of the nightlife industry, she said: “It’s been a frightener for everyone.

“It’s sad that I’m having to leave The Railway. I never expected to be moving on - I thought it was my forever job. It’s sentimental to me.

“I took it on with my husband Jim, who passed away on February 13th, 2021. I have a very emotional attachment to it, which is why I tried to keep going. But sometimes you can’t. It’s been a very hard decision.”

Anna Marie took over the business four years ago, adding: “It was great. Before the pandemic, it was busy all the time. We did lots of things for charities, and were well-known for hosting functions and showing Sky Sports. It was bouncing in there.”

Anna Marie Andrew, landlady of the Railway at Leyland, will hand the pub keys back to Heineken at the end of the month.

Like many business owners, she faced restrictions when she reopened The Railway following lockdown and was not able to open its nightclub element until late summer.

“A lot of nightclubs were shutting down but I believed I could still beat the pandemic,” she said, adding that the nightlife industry faces other challenges, too.

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“The price of Sky Sports has gone up drastically. And wages and utilities are going up.

Anna Marie has been running the pub for four years.

“Trends have also changed and we’re not getting the footfall. People haven’t got the money or have bars in their gardens now.”

It’s the second in a string of blows for the landlady this year as she also lost the Dunkirk Hall pub in February, after around just two years of running it.

“It was closed by the pandemic the day after I’d signed for the lease,” she said.

“For six months I had to pay furlough from my own pocket.”

Her other pubs are faring better because they cater to daytime drinkers, she says.

“The Fox & Lion is the heart of the community and has a fabulous manager, Pauline Brown. It’s an amazing place; I love it.”

Anna Marie first took it over 13 years ago and says she met “the love of my life” there in 2010. She left the venue after being headhunted to run another establishment that same year, before returning to Leyland to help care for her husband after he suffered a heart attack.

The couple decided to take the Fox & Lion back on but Jim died of heart failure in February, 2021, five months before Anna Marie was given the keys.

“Jim was determined he wanted that back. There were a lot of memories for him. We did the pool room up in a Rangers Football club theme as Jim is Scottish.”