January 10, 2010

UK: Pub landlord pulling his last pint aged 87

. SWANSEA, South West Wales / BBC News / January 10, 2010 Landlord Frank Blake is calling time on his 30 years behind the bar at the Station Hotel just a month shy of his 88th birthday. A pub landlord getting ready to pull his last pint at the age of 87 claims changes to the trade in the last few years have left a bitter taste. Frank Blake is calling time on his 30 years behind the bar at the Station Hotel in Gorseinon near Swansea. He said the smoking ban and cheaper drink available at off-licences and supermarkets were "killing" the traditional watering hole. He said many of his older customers now preferred to drink at home. The Station Hotel near the centre of the town is a traditional no frills pub with an old fashioned bar and a lounge. Mr Blake said he and his late wife had worked hard to build up trade when he took it on after leaving the merchant navy in 1978. "I'm feeling the weight of it and working for nothing now the trade has gone," he explained. "Everything has changed. The smoking ban has made a big difference. "People are buying drink in the supermarkets. I can't understand why the breweries are selling it so cheap to them. "It's dying out, there's no doubt about that." But he said he had enjoyed most of his time in the trade. Pipe smokers "It's the elderly I feel sorry for," added Mr Blake who turns 88 next month. "They used to come out and socialise, meet their friends and smoke their pipes. I miss all that." He said he had had great support from his family in keeping the business going and said he still had a small band of loyal customers. A surprise goodbye party was thrown for him earlier this week. "I've enjoyed it. We all get our ups and downs but the customers have been good." He leaves the pub on Monday but said he had not made any plans yet for his retirement. "I wish I was young enough to go back to sea. I would go back tomorrow," he added. The Station Hotel will remain open under new management. [rc] © BBC MMX