Jodie Kidd drank here – celebrities mark threatened pubs with blue plaques

Publican and model, Jodie Kidd presents a personalised blue plaque to Tom Kerridge, commemorating her favourite pub memory, which took place at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow
Publican and model, Jodie Kidd presents a personalised blue plaque to Tom Kerridge, commemorating her favourite pub memory, which took place at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow
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It has become tradition to screw a blue plaque to the wall of a building where a person of note was born, died or otherwise distinguished him or herself.

But the latest collection of historical markers might be said to be setting a new bar, by denoting simply where someone liked to have a drink.

Kym Marsh presenting a personalised blue plaque to publican Georgia at The Golden Lion, commemorating her favourite pub memory, which took place at The Golden Lion in Makerfield, Wigan

Kym Marsh presenting a personalised blue plaque to publican Georgia at The Golden Lion, commemorating her favourite pub memory, which took place at The Golden Lion in Makerfield, Wigan

However, the campaign to be launched today by famous people still alive, betrays a serious purpose, with new research revealing that the practice of having a local to call home might itself soon be consigned to the past.

Across Yorkshire, more than 400,000 people could lose access to their nearest pub within the next five years, if closures continue at the present rate, an industry body says.

A campaign by an alliance of pubs and brewers, which is petitioning the Government to reduce beer duty, forecasts that 445 pubs will be lost to the region in that time. Nationally, it says 5,305 are at risk, denying some 5.7m people a local.

It believes its Long Live The Local campaign will draw attention to the trend, by enlisting celebrities to unveil blue plaques at pubs close to their hearts.

“We hope this initiative inspires others to recognise the importance of the local pub and to consider how they would feel if it was no longer there,” said the campaign director, David Cunningham.

The celebrities included the footballer Jimmy Bullard and the singer and actress Kym Marsh, who gave plaques to pubs that had meant most to them.

But it was the model Jodie Kidd who had experienced most closely the closure of a village local. The Half Moon in Kirdford, West Sussex, shut in 2016 and was up for sale when she stepped in and bought it. It would likely have gone for housing if not.

“Pubs are an important part of our communities,” she said. “But many of us take it for granted that they will always be there.”

She placed her blue plaque on the bar of the restaurateur Tom Kerridge, whose pub, the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Bucks, is the only one in the country with two Michelin stars.

Sutton-on-the-Forest, half an hour’s drive north of York, had witnessed a similar rescue to that achieved by Ms Kidd. When four years ago the Rose and Crown, its last remaining pub, was threatened with closure, some 55 locals formed a Community Interest Company and raised £30,000 to keep it afloat.

“Its thriving now,” said Neil Willetts, who runs it with his partner, Nikki Horton.

But in keeping with Mr Kerridge, he said it was food, not drink, that kept it going.

“A pub won’t last if it doesn’t do food. Nikki and I are both chefs, and that makes a difference.”

The pub has repaid half the money it was advanced to secure its survival, but Mr Willetts noted that most of its current trade came from outside the village.

“When you go out today, you want to really go out,” he said.