Wych Elm veterans Manuel and Janet Turnes retiring after three decades at the pub

Manuel and Janet Turnes behind the bar.

Manuel and Janet Turnes behind the bar.

First published in News
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Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

They have ridden out recessions, won awards and served generations of regulars, but now the owners of a Kingston pub are retiring after 31 years.

Manuel and Janet Turnes moved into the Wych Elm in November, 1982, and it took three months before the pub, closed for some time, was in a fit state to open.

At a recent party at the Elm Road favourite – famed for its flowers and hanging baskets – old regulars even made the trip from Somerset to say goodbye.

Mr Turnes, 66, said: “I didn’t know I was so popular with my customers. We want to thank all our regulars for all their support over the years.”

Mrs Turnes, 57, said: “We've had 31 years here and I think we've still got a good business. We've decided it's time to hand it to someone else.

“It's going to be really sad saying goodbye to these people because they've been part of our lives. We've had lots of ups and downs - we've come through recessions.

“There are a lot of pubs gone. I hope this can survive because it's a community. With all the things that have disappeared over the years it's good to know it's still here.”

Mrs Turnes, a Kingston in Bloom veteran, said she plans to put her green fingers to use volunteering at RHS Wisley.

The pub has donated thousands of pounds raised by punters to nearby charities, and handed over a final chunk of change last weekend.

The groups include Princess Alice Hospice, Macmillan nurses, the Sarcoma cancer charity, and Barnfield Riding for the Disabled (BDRA).

BDRA chairman David Thomas said: “Manuel and Janet have been fantastic support for us. We’re very sad to see them go.”

The Wych Elm will be taken over by the owners of the Canbury Arms, who say they plan to retain its traditional feel.

Owner Michael Pearson said: “We see ourselves as custodians – the pub belongs to the community. We certainly want to carry it on as a traditional pub, because there are too many pubs closing.

“We have been regulars at the Wych Elm for many years. Manny and Janet have always extended a very warm welcome. It’s very sad to see them go.”

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