A 70-year-old former jeweller is thought to be Britain’s oldest entrant into the pub trade, after coming out of retirement to turn his hand to a new profession.
For much of his working life Richard Burrell ran his own chain of eponymous jewellery shops, Burrells Jewellers, which had branches in Kent, Surrey and London.
The stores still bear his name today, even though he took the decision to retire from the industry when he sold them on.
His flagship Tunbridge Wells shop was bought by Swag two years ago and at the time the chain said it was committed to keeping the name and qualities of Burrells, while adding its own touch of passion and enthusiasm to the venture.
But after getting fed up with retirement Mr Burrell decided he needed to return to work, choosing to buy a pub rather than make a comeback in the jewellery industry.
He has purchased The Abergavenny Arms, a historic 15th century former coaching house near Tunbridge Wells, and says life couldn’t be better. “Seventy is the new 40,” he said. “I tried being retired, but I have too much energy, got bored and drove my wife mad.”
Mr Burrell, who puts in a shift at the pub each day, has wasted no time in embarking on a refurbishment of the pub, updating its style and atmosphere, creating a new menu and organising a range of events throughout the summer.
Mr Burrell worked in the jewellery industry for more than 50 years, discovering his passion for the craft while working at a jewellers in Croydon, according to information published by Swag at the time it purchased Burrells in Tunbridge Wells.
From there, Mr Burrell decided to become a jewellery apprentice and opened his first workshop in Hatton Garden when he was 21-years-old. After spending the next 20 years selling to some of London’s most prestigious jewellery stores, he launched the first Burrells store in Croydon and went onto open three more in the town.
He later went onto open a further six stores across southern England, including the Tunbridge Wells store he later sold to Swag.