Monday, 29 April 2013

The London to be demolished

The London Hotel, Southport
Closer to home than my previous post, Sefton Council, which covers Southport, has agreed that the London Hotel in Windsor Road can be demolished to make way for a housing development. I wrote about the rumours concerning the pub's future in December last year, and followed that by contacting the owners, Barnsley Brewery. They were reluctant to reply and I had to send reminders before I received any kind of admission that the pub's future was in doubt. They admitted planning permission had been applied for but still claimed they wanted it to continue as a pub, but I'm not convinced. The local branch of CAMRA has opposed the closure by attending the planning meeting to see objections lodged and by press releases that have prompted one or two letters from the public, but it's now a foregone conclusion.

In January last year I explained how the term "community pub" applied to the London, with various teams using it as a base, and it also providing entertainment for its customers. It wasn't helped by a lack of investment - it badly needed redecoration - and weird opening hours such as, for example, closing at 10 pm on Wednesdays. With the town centre pubs only 10 or 15 minutes' walk away, you can't do silly things like that, but the tenant told me that it was a brewery decision, not his own.

I'm not convinced this pub had to close; there are pubs elsewhere in Southport a similar distance from the town centre that are doing well, and the London has the advantage of no competition in the immediate vicinity. It is the only local outlet for Oakwell Brewery, and its beers have always been extremely reasonably priced. I consider that it has been in a state of managed decline until it became uneconomical, thus justifying closure and clearing the way for a windfall from the sale of the site.

The pub, which was opened in 1866, will close on 1 May.

Picture 'borrowed' from CAMRA Southport & West Lancs Facebook page.

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