ONE of Andover’s most prominent social clubs is to close after landlords threatened to nearly double its rent.

Andover Railway Social Club says it will shut at the end of March, having spent 63 years in the town.

And the club, based on Station Approach, says it has been forced to make the decision after the landlords proposed to nearly double the rent.

Trustee Neil Lambourne showed the Advertiser copies of the club’s current lease, which started seven years ago, for a yearly rent of £13,500.

Landlords Saston Limited contacted the club in December offering a new lease, starting in March, of a five to ten year term of £24,000 (plus VAT) per annum.

Terms and conditions of the lease also include maintenance of the building and insurance. Andover Railway Club has around 200 members and a core membership of 50.

Mr Lambourne said: “It means a lot to me, I’ve been the secretary for nine years.

“Over the last seven months, particularly when at home on your own and you’ve got a loved one in care, when you need someone to talk to, it stopped you from going mad.

“It’s kept me alive.”

Mr Lambourne says going to the club helped him while his wife was in a care home suffering from brain cancer, which she died of last month.

He added: “A lot of people have grown up here, a lot of families have been here.

“My son had his first pint served here, a lot of members have.”

The social club, which opened in 1954 for Andover’s railway workers, was a place for the community to play darts, pool, and cribbage among other social pursuits.

Fellow trustee Ros Morris said: “It’s the people that matter to us. “It’s a social club, we’ve seen them through some tough times.

“It’s like a big family here and we never get any trouble. It’s always been such a good relationship here between the members.”

Saston Limited took over ownership of the strip of land on Station Approach, which houses the club plus other businesses including Spice Express and S & J Maddocks Ltd, around 15 years ago.

The Advertiser approached Saston Limited who did not wish to comment.