Joining the inn-crowd: more pubs face converting to houses

PUBS in Hull and East Yorkshire are being threatened by a “tidal wave” of conversions according to real ale enthusiasts.

Denise Hardy, Avril Russell and Margaret Wilson from Thorngumbald Parish Council, outside the East Yorkshire pub. Picture by Simon Hulme
Denise Hardy, Avril Russell and Margaret Wilson from Thorngumbald Parish Council, outside the East Yorkshire pub. Picture by Simon Hulme

Once a rare occurrence, applications to convert pubs are becoming increasingly common, leading to fears that some villages may be left with just one or no local at all.

In rural Holderness two early 19th century pubs, the former Crown and Anchor Inn at Elstronwick and the Neptune Inn at Easington look set to be turned into houses, while the Royal Mail in Thorngumbald faces demolition and rebuilding as a Co-op.

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The Blacksmiths Arms in Preston has sold and is unlikely to reopen as a pub, while the Elm Tree Inn in Aldbrough has recently gone on the market, sparking fears that it too will be converted.

The derelict Old Star Inn pub at Collingham, Leeds

It emerged yesterday that villagers in Thorngumbald had failed in their attempt to get the Royal Mail - one of two in the village - listed as a community asset in a bid to scupper the demolition plans.

East Riding Council said the parish council’s bid had been rejected on the grounds there were other facilities available.

The former Marstons pub was acquired last year by developer NewRiver Retail.

A public meeting saw 200 people turn out last year. Clerk Avril Russell said: “It’s always been the hub of the village. The building has been there since the 1800s, the over 50s club on a Wednesday is heaving. We use it on the annual scarecrow trail and there are fun nights and quizzes - once it is gone it is gone and that would be a shame.”

Ken Smith, from the Hull and East Yorkshire branch of Camra said changing culture, the availability of cheap beer in supermarkets and the smoking ban had all had an impact: “All the figures I’ve seen through Camra suggest the rate of pub closures hasn’t slowed down. It seems to me there’s a tidal wave of conversions, mainly to residential.”

However one local developer Neil Soper said they were giving failed pubs a new lease of life. Mr Soper, of Hull-based Soper Group, has bought the Crown and Anchor as well as the Blacksmiths Arms and the Nancy at Burton Pidsea.

He has invested £250,000 to reopen the Nancy - which had 33 pub managers in the space of just a few years - as a pub/restaurant/tearoom and ice cream parlour, but says the Crown and Anchor, two miles away, is simply not viable.

“The Crown and Anchor will be two cottages - it failed that many times as a pub. Better to have two cottages than a rat-infested building. I don’t think the Blacksmiths will be a pub, there are three in the village and there’s no way you can sustain that.

“People are crying out for housing and we aim to be sympathetic and create something which still keeps its character. I don’t want to live in a village with a derelict building in its centre.

“At least we have stuck our heads out and are trying to help the community - but yes, it does have to make a profit.”

He added: “I would have thought small villages will end up with one nice successful pub, rather than two run-down pubs which no one wants to use.”

Last month developers withdrew plans for two pubs in Beverley, one for housing on the site of The Gamebird, and the second to extend the rear of The Lincoln Arms, so it could be used as a foodstore.

Meanwhile in Hull developers have applied to convert the Tap and Spile on Beverley Road from a pub to a restaurant and takeaway.