The doors have closed on one of Wincanton’s oldest pubs due to plummeting trade.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been a prominent part of Wincanton’s high street for more than 150 years.
However, landlord Ted Petre-Mears reluctantly made the decision to close the thatched pub on Sunday after an apparent drop in customers at the end of 2012.
Mr Petre-Mears said: “We had a one-year lease which came up at the weekend.
“After a review of the year’s books and the recent arrival of my daughter, Daisy, I felt it was the right time for me to close the doors.
“We have had some great times in the pub which have been made even more memorable by the fantastic customers and loyal staff, all of whom I will miss dearly.
“I wish the next landlord as much happiness as I have had, and look forward to seeing my friends of Wincanton on the other side of the bar soon.”
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was first opened by Thomas Green in 1861. The inn takes its name from American author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous book which was published as a serial in an anti-slavery newspaper in 1851.
Mr Petre-Mears, who took over the running of the pub 12 months ago, is married to Katie Petre-Mears, who is leading the Wincanton town team looking to regenerate the High Street.
She said her husband was “devastated” by the closure.
Mrs Petre-Mears said: “Ted took over Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the hope of bringing the old pub back to life.
“After spending a substantial amount of our own money on the place, things were going well.
“However, business started to decline late last year, but we soldiered on hoping that it would change.
“It has sadly now got to a situation where we simply can not afford to continue. We are certainly not turning our back on the town, far from it.
“I am actively involved in the Town Team and our daughter still attends Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School.
“However, when you cannot afford to put food on the table for your family, it is time to stop.
“Ted is absolutely devastated about the closure.”
John Smith, chairman of Wincanton Businesses Together, said he regretted the closure of one of the town’s major “institutions”.
He said: “It is always hard for our pubs because Wincanton is not a big town, and to open a pub is very brave.
“It’s a real pity because Ted is an excellent guy and seemed very popular in the town.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in my mind, is a bit of an institution for Wincanton. It is probably one of the oldest in Wincanton and it is the epitome of the traditional British pub.
“The loss of any business, especially something possessing such a rustic charm as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is a tragedy.”
The Western Gazette was unable to contact the owner of the pub before going to press.