On a trip of West Lancs pubs for the Good Beer Guide, we stopped at the Railway in Hoscar. The landlady was temporarily not in and the couple of regulars who had agreed to keep an eye on the place until she came back must have had heart attacks when they saw our coach pull up. This is a cosy little country local right next to the railway station. The handpumps showed Tetley Bitter and Black Sheep: most of us opted for the latter, but it almost immediately ran out, so Tetley it was, as these regulars couldn't change the barrel. I never cease to be surprised by the popularity of Tetley's, considering how insipid, tasteless and boring it seems to me.
The landlady returned and the Black Sheep was put on. She told some of our group that she was leaving the following week and the pub would be closing. Whether the closure is permanent or not wasn't clear, but even if the pub company did intend to replace the licensee, the supply of people willing to try running a pub with all the massive risks that now entails is, it seems to me, beginning to dry up. Fewer willing mugs with the dosh to gamble.
I hope this little rural pub can get back on its feet, but with the small number of customers in there on a Saturday afternoon when we arrived, it's not promising.