Tonbridge pub to reopen after being saved by locals

Pam Mills

A popular Tonbridge pub has been saved from developers with the help of its locals – and a prize-winning pub landlord.

Later this month, pints will be pulled at The Nelson Arms, in Cromer Street, Tonbridge, for the first time since February 2017 – when Kent brewer Shepherd Neame shut its doors.

Locals clubbed together to try to save the two-storey pub being sold off for housing, claiming it was an asset of community value.

But when CAMRA-acclaimed pub landlord Matthew Rudd heard of the residents’ plight, he stepped in and offered to help.

Matthew and his partner Emma Cole have been licensees of the hugely popular Windmill at Sevenoaks Weald for the past six years – another pub they rescued from closure.

They now hope they can breathe new life into the Nelson, as they have done at the Windmill.

Matthew, 53, said: ‘Tonbridge has always been a busy town and this is a great community pub, in a great location close to the shops and the station. There is a real buzz about the town at the moment and we are delighted to become a part of it.’

When it re-opens, the Nelson Arms will have 10 cask ales on tap, plus craft beers, continental lagers and cocktails.

Matthew said: ‘There’s not much we don’t know about real ales and good beer and believe the Nelson Arms is the perfect location to bring this kind of quality offering to Tonbridge.’

He paid tribute to Mark Hood and the Barden Residents Association who had fought to retain the building when developers planned to move in.

He said: ‘This is such a part of Tonbridge’s history that it would have been a shame to close it down. Thankfully, largely due to the residents themselves, we have been able to take on the pub and re-open it for the purpose for which it was intended!’

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