Tracie and Peter Lafford have been in the pub trade for 25 years and at the Railway, in Station Road, Wheatley, for the past 18.

They will be leaving on December 1, and are having a party in the pub tomorrow to say goodbye to all their customers.

Mrs Lafford, 40, said: “Trade is just different these days and we just know it is time to go.

“We have no idea what happens next, but we are trying to move on and perhaps find something within the trade.”

Mr and Mrs Lafford and their seven children — four of whom were born since their parents took over at the Railway — all live in the pub and will be looking for a new home as well.

Daughter Millie, 17, has helped out in the pub and trained to take a City and Guilds qualification.

Mrs Lafford, Wheatley born and bred, said: “It is the end of an era really and there are a lot of people upset we are going.

“They say it isn’t going to be the same without us.

“We are a very family-oriented business and customers aren’t just customers, they are our friends.

“We have a lot of people round for Christmas who don’t have any homes to go to, so it is a real community thing.”

She admitted it would be heart-wrenching to say goodbye to the pub but said she and her husband felt it was the right time to move on.

The couple previously worked in the White Hart, in Marston, Oxford, and the city’s now defunct Westgate, but are planning to move away from Oxfordshire.

They have not yet decided whether or not they will stay within the pub industry or pursue other careers.

Tomorrow’s party, which is open to all, is a black tie event, and up to 300 people are expected to attend.

Mrs Lafford said: “It will be an early evening start and we are saying we are going to finish on Monday.

“We’ve made a lot of friends over the years and it is going to be difficult to say goodbye.”

New managers are taking over the pub, which sponsors various local football and rugby teams.