New fears have been raised for the future of Norfolk's pubs following a wave of closures which has seen one a week calling last orders.

Since the start of the year, at least eight have shut their doors across the county.

Some are in quiet villages, while others are in busy city and town centres and areas of housing growth.

While there are hopes some could reopen their doors, experts say the sector is being "crippled" by a range of factors which mean they are facing a worse outlook than ever before.

They warn that more closures could follow, leaving communities without a vital asset, and industry figures have urged people to support their locals through their most challenging period ever.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: "Now is a make-or-break moment to save our locals and breweries from failure now in the years to come."

But why are so many closures happening now? 

Eastern Daily Press: Jill Tickle - Picture: NewsquestJill Tickle - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Jill Tickle)

Eastern Daily Press: The Green Dragon, Wymondham - Picture: NewsquestThe Green Dragon, Wymondham - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Archant)

The King's Head in Hethersett closed on February 28, although it is hoped it could later reopen.  

Jill Tickle, owner of pub management firm Tickle's Taverns, said she had "fought so hard” to stay open but that the hospitality industry is "crippled”.

Ms Tickle, who also recently announced the closure of the historic Green Dragon in Wymondham, cited the cost of living crisis, energy prices and wage costs as some of the reasons behind the closure.  

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It followed the closures of several Norwich establishments: Frank's Bar and Oliver's Bar, and fellow Stonegate pub the York Tavern's kitchen closure. 

Frank’s joint owners and cousins, James Wingfield and Ella Williams, had run the establishment for 15 years.

They said their "once healthy business has been decimated - firstly by the pandemic and more recently by the cost-of-living crisis". 

While Andrew McNeil, who took over the York in 2019 with wife Anna, said it was on the brink of closing due to "ongoing financial pressures."

Eastern Daily Press: James Wingfield and Ella Williams - Picture: NewsquestJames Wingfield and Ella Williams - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Archant © 2013)

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew McNeil - Picture: NewsquestAndrew McNeil - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Archant 2021)

Other closures outside of the city include the Blue Boar Inn in Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, Darby’s in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, and the Lion pub in Somerton, near Great Yarmouth.

Each of the bosses has listed a variety of reasons behind the decisions, including punters' household budgets which have forced more people to drink and eat at home.

There was also the impact of the World Cup towards to end of 2022, which saw the timing of the tournament clash with Christmas bookings, meaning they missed out on vital takings.

Eastern Daily Press: Darby's in Swanton Morley - Picture: NewsquestDarby's in Swanton Morley - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

Eastern Daily Press: The Blue Boar Inn in Great Ryburgh - Picture: NewsquestThe Blue Boar Inn in Great Ryburgh - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

Industry experts are calling for help from the chancellor in this month's budget.

Others in the sector say that investment can help pubs find success.

In Norwich, the Trafford Arms recently announced a major refurbishment taking place this month.

Eastern Daily Press: Briony and Nick De'ath - Picture: NewsquestBriony and Nick De'ath - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022)

Eastern Daily Press: Adnams chief executive, Andy Wood - Picture: NewsquestAdnams chief executive, Andy Wood - Picture: Newsquest (Image: Anthony Cullen)

Since taking on the boozer in 2015, Nick and Briony De’Ath, who also own the Unthank Arms and the Warwick Arms, have maintained the traditional community feel of the pub as well as continuing the Valentine’s Beer Festival, now in its 25th year, and its monthly quizzes. 

Mr De'Ath said: "These are hard times for so many people but we hope that we give people a chance to have some enjoyable social time - whether you're having a coffee, a quick pint or coming out for dinner."

And Southwold-based brewery and pub chain, Adnams, reported seeing a "huge support" from the public since lockdown. 

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The BBPA has warned that without support in the Spring Budget, 2,000 of the nation’s pubs are facing closure.

The group has called on the government to freeze duty rates, implement an increased discount on draft beer sold in pubs, introduce a reduced rate for lower-strength beers, and plan for sustainable growth with a focus on skills and training to ensure pubs and breweries can thrive.

New polling data from Oxford Economics showed 69pc of the nation think pubs play an important role in bringing communities together.