A WOLLASTON pub landlord has decided to call it a day after more than 30 years in the trade due to rising costs.

Wayne Etheridge has run The Britannia Sports Bar in the High Street for the last 13 years but his gas and electricity bills have skyrocketed to the point that it’s not sustainable to keep going.

He said prior to Covid he would pay around £800 per month for his electricity bill which has now increased to a staggering £3,500, and his gas bills have soared from £300-400 a month to about £1,700.

He said: “The trade hasn’t recovered since Covid and with the cost of living crisis and everything else - the pub isn’t viable.

“After 13 years it’s time to call it a day. The locals are devastated given the part the Britannia has played in the community for the last 13 years.”

He said he plans to continue running his popular events featuring guest talks with former sporting stars but holding them at venues across the area such as other pubs and football clubs.

He said: “The events side of the business is flying, with guest speakers and the memorabilia that comes with it. You’ve got to drop what’s not cost effective, so I’m doing away with the pub and taking the events round to other places.”

Stourbridge News: Landlord Wayne Etheridge with former Aston Villa manager John GregoryLandlord Wayne Etheridge with former Aston Villa manager John Gregory (Image: Wayne Etheridge)

Wayne, who has been in the pub trade for around 33 years, said “it’s a shame” how hard the pandemic and cost of living crisis has hit the industry.

He said: “It’s extremely sad. It’s the only trade I know.

“I can’t see the licensing trade ever recovering from the pandemic. That many people have built man caves in their garden and fully fitted them out and Covid introduced people to beer in supermarkets “There’s very little passing trade here. We have to generate our own business.

“With the costs, it’s just not viable anymore.

“I’ll concentrate on events, that’s what brings in the money.”

Wayne, aged 53, however, will continue to host his popular sports nostalgia events – with two big events planned for May.

On Wednesday May 24 the Britannia will welcome former West Bromwich Albion players to a charity event for the West Brom Foundation featuring special guest Blind Dave Heeley.

And on Thursday May 25 the pub will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the time Wolves won the Sherpa Van Trophy in 1988. The event will reunite former players and will be hosted by legendary goalkeeper Matt Murray.

Both events will be held in a marquee in the pub grounds and are expected to attract up to 200 people.

Wayne said: “We want to go out on a high.

“We’re still going to continue to run the pub as we have in the past 13 years and keep the same standards. We’ve just got a 4 rating for food hygiene. We’re trying to maintain and run it to the best of our ability until my notice runs out on September 10.”

Stonegate Pub Partners are now advertising for a new community-minded publican to take on the Britannia.

The pub company’s website says the opportunity would suit someone with catering skills to provide good quality pub food and who can create a calendar of events to maintain visiting trade.