STRAP Chairman’s Update – 16th December 2020

Chairman’s Update – 16th December 2020

Railway Pub in the snow.December 2020


  • Cleaning, gardening and minor works volunteers making great progress.
  • Thoughts on re-opening. Progress with kitchen, cellar, bar, garden and outbuildings.
  • Upcoming Annual General Meeting. Wednesday 30th December 2020 (Zoom)
Dear All,

Seasons greeting to you!

Work proceeds at the Railway Arms and it’s great to be able to report on progress since the last update in November.

The brilliant members of the cleaning group have been hard at it and the bar room is now looking as good as it possibly could look before redecoration. With its brass polished, and the glass all shiny the bar itself is eagerly awaiting its refit. Upstairs the manager’s accommodation has been totally cleared and cleaned and, once a few minor repairs have been carried out, the soon to be established decorating team will be able to make a start. The transformation of the kitchen is well underway, and a great vote of thanks is due to everyone who has put hard hours and elbow grease into the stainless steel units, surfaces and aluminium walls. Once the professionals have been in to thoroughly clean and service the ovens, fryers and the extractor unit a final flourish will leave it ready for inspection and seeking a hygiene rating. It goes without saying that the bar and cellar refit is a major project and one that has been much debated and considered. The Railway’s reputation for great beer weighs heavily and several options have been assessed and evaluated. We’re now homing in on what we believe will be a cellar to be proud of and an independent drinks offering that will be the talk of the town.

As we all know the current tier two restrictions and the general uncertainty over what winter will bring makes planning for re-opening the pub very difficult indeed, and in some ways insensitive. The virus continues to threaten us all and, even with the wonderful promise of new and emerging vaccines, the road ahead looks hard. Braintree district, just over ten miles away, will go into tier three today and all pubs will have to close again, unless providing a take-away only service. No one knows for how long.
As luck would have it we have plenty to be getting on with and we’ve just received a quantity surveyor’s take on what the works that we are faced with will cost. Some work can be handled by the dedicated, skilled volunteers that have already made a start on key tasks but other repairs, at height, on a scaffold, for example, will have to be handled professionally.

Work on the garden has continued and designs have been proposed that will help us achieve our ambitions for the best pub garden in town. The dividing fence will come down soon and the extra space will be put to good use with planting that will offer a fantastic sensory experience throughout the seasons. The gardening group have made great progress in scarifying the lawn, removing moss, picking out ground ivy, weeding and laying out beds ready for the spring. The newly revealed patio area came as a bit of a surprise to some of us but will, no doubt play a central role in the life of the garden. The sycamore tree that was undermining the workshop and causing problems for our neighbours has now gone but is not to be forgotten. It will contribute to a woodpile in the garden to host insects and other invertebrates and was cut into rounds that, once seasoned and chopped, will make great firewood. Alternatively, it is available as blanks for any keen woodturners out there to work their magic upon. A beech tree and a false acacia have added to our stocks over the last week and the brash has been kept ready to be woven into brushwood faggots which will make great firelighters for a pizza oven; nothing goes to waste. We have the offer of a treadle lathe on a long term loan and it is easy to see the potential of the outbuildings as spaces that can be put to good use for the benefit of the pub and the community. Some of our plans will take time to realise but the garage, complete with optional vehicle inspection pit, will soon be cleared and cleaned and made ready as a community facility for anyone needing space to work on a project.

Amid all this activity it was almost easy to forget that our Annual General Meeting is upon us. It must be held within six months of our financial year-end, 30th June. Given that the festive celebrations will likely be a little muted in most households this year we have settled on Wednesday 30th December for our AGM. Many of us have grown used to Zoom and what it offers in terms of remote meeting so hopefully, the experience will not be too alien. We have a large and growing membership and to be quorate we will need a minimum of around 55 attendees so please do set aside a couple of hours on that evening to consider the committee report and accounts and a discussion on ways forward; or maybe just to say hello to friends and faces you’ve not seen for a while. The formal notice will be posted later today with the annual report and agenda coming out next Wednesday, 23rd December.

Wishing you a happy and safe Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all on our Zoom AGM on 30th December


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