Harbottle landlord calls time after 46 years at The Star Inn

When Anne Dunn started out as a publican, Ted Heath was prime minister and Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody was number one in the UK charts.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 12:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st August 2019, 5:20 pm
Retiring publican Anne Dunn (centre) with the new custodians of the Star Inn, Harbottle, Karen and Phil Wilkinson.

Much has changed since December 1973 but The Star Inn in the picturesque Coquetdale village of Harbottle has remained at the heart of community life.

The pub, which overlooks the ruins of a 12th century castle, is a real community hub and also serves as a local village shop, a craft centre in summer and, of course, a hostelry in the best old-fashioned sense of the word.

Anne, who ran the pub with her late husband Robert for 43 years, is handing over the reins to Karen and Phil Wilkinson who have plans to invest.

Anne Dunn

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Contracts on the free hold were exchanged on Wednesday and Anne, who has been helping the new owners get ready for the task ahead, will pull her last pint on Thursday.

“I’ve got all sorts of mixed feelings about it but I’m looking forward to the next part of my life,” said Anne. “When Robert died three years ago I decided not do do anything immediately but now I’ve decided the time is right to retire.”

Robert and Anne lived in Kidlandlee when the tenancy at The Star Inn came up in 1973.

“Robert had done occasional shifts there so we thought we’d give it a go – and I’m still here,” said Anne. “Our children, John and Catherine, have grown up here and now I have six grandchildren.

“We always felt it was important to play a central role in the local community, whether that be delivering newspapers or acting as a postal delivery point.

“We always did fund-raising for the show, the school and the church and we estimate we raised well over £30,000 for cancer research and other charities.”

Her efforts on behalf of Harbottle Show have been recognised by the committee who have made her president this year as a gesture to her hard work.

Times have changed, not least for rural pubs which have suffered from stricter drink-driving laws and changes in culture.

“The Star Inn is very much an ordinary country pub, just serving drinks, so things have changed with people drinking at home more these days in front of their big screen TVs,” said Anne. “There are also a lot more holiday homes here now so I don’t know people like I used to.”

Anne is moving to Rothbury but hasn’t got specific plans for the immediate future.

She said: “I just want to slowly get used to the change but I expect I will still be waking up at 6am thinking about delivering the daily newspapers for a while yet!”

The sale has been handled by Rothbury-based Turvey Westgarth LLP.