Horsham pub landlord finally calls 'Time' after nearly 28 years
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And the almost-three-decades in which John Brown has been running The Bedford in Station Road makes him the longest serving landlord of a single public house establishment in the area.
“It’s been a journey,” he said. “There have been lots of happy times to remember and I have been blessed with excellent staff.” Also helping him have been his wife Geraldene and daughter Nicola.
John first moved to Sussex from Glasgow and established a secure handling business at Gatwick Airport. But when he heard that the previous landlord of The Bedford in Horsham was leaving, he jumped at the chance of running the pub. “It was the first time I had pulled a pint,” he said. “The customer asked for a Guinness and I thought ‘this could be interesting’.”
He teamed up with his brother Anthony and the pair ran the pub together until Anthony retired a few years ago because of ill health. The Bedford became well-loved by customers as a ‘pub’ pub, a traditional old school place.
John will now be calling last orders for the final time on March 2. But he has many fond memories to look back on. “It’s been a whole gambit of life,” he said. “It’s the celebration of people’s lives which have been most memorable. We’ve celebrated weddings, anniversaries, births, New Year’s Eve bashes, happy Christmas times – I think the only thing that hasn’t been celebrated is a Bar Mitzvah.”
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, especially since the Covid pandemic and lockdowns. The pub industry generally has been hard hit, “people are not going out as frequently as they did in the past. But there will still be a place for pubs in the future and the Government has got to understand that,” said John. “The Government doesn’t support the trade enough with VAT, rates, etc.”
But now that John, 72, is retiring “it’s time to chill out a bit and see what the new chapter brings,” he said. “We’ll probably stay in Horsham because we like it here.”
But he’s also planning to spend more time with wife Garaldene and to visit their daughter Louise who lives in Goring with husband Dan; and their son Daniel who lives in New Jersey in the US with his wife Olivia – also a former Horsham lass.
Meanwhile he is also planning to play a bit more golf. “My handicap is going the wong way so I’m hoping to improve on that,” he said.
But before all that, John has arranged a series of fun nights at The Bedford to send him off on his retirement in style.
"February is our last month here,” said daughter Nicola. “We would love to see ‘old faces’ and say goodbye to people.” The pub will be hosting a band every Saturday night through February before John’s final night at the helm on March 2.
Pub chain Stonegate is currently seeking a new landlord to take over in John’s footsteps.