TIME has been called on a historic Houghton pub.
At the weekend, the last pint was pulled at the Golden Lion, which is thought to be more than 300 years old.
Industry company Punch Taverns, which owned the Grade II-listed building, have sold it to a businessman who intends to create an Italian restaurant.
Thought to have originated as a coaching inn for passing travellers, the earliest records for the pub only go back to 1824 when it was owned by the Reverends John and Edward Bulmer.
The Golden Lion’s closure means that the White Lion, which stands opposite, will be the last remaining of Houghton’s four famous lion pubs, with the Red Lion and Black Lion both closing years ago.
The pub, affectionately known as The Gold by regulars, has old stables – now used as a garage. Downstairs, a cellar room features a drain connected to the Houghton burn culvert.
Landlord Paul Thompson, was tenant of the Broadway pub for the past six years.
He said: “Punch Taverns are selling properties all over at the minute, and obviously they have decided to get rid of the Gold.
“I’d have been there forever if things had been right, but it’s not to be.”
The Echo reported last year how Lion barmaid Jean Holland, 63, had reached her 30th anniversary working at the pub, since beginning in June 1982.
Jean is set to retire now that the pub has been sold.
Ex-landlady Diane Salkeld, from Washington, said the pub closing signals the end of an era for Houghton.
“The Gold closing has really upset me,” said the 49-year-old, who ran the pub from 1999 to 2000.
“It is unique, and there will never be another pub like it.
“It’s stood since the 1500s and now it’s going to be ripped apart, with no respect to the history of the place.”
The Golden Lion is expected to be closed for the next few months while renovation work by its new owners is carried out.
Its closure comes as the Campaign for Real Ale urged people to drink more to help the pub industry.
Chief executive Mike Benner said: “With the price of a pint getting a much-needed duty cut in this year’s Budget, there’s never been a better time to get down the pub and help save the Great British pub.
“Just a pint a month extra is all it would take.”