Campaign to save Packhorse pub launched
A campaign has been launched to save one of the Bath area’s oldest pubs.
Residents in South Stoke and Odd Down are determined to do all they can to halt plans to use the Packhorse pub for offices.
The 17th century building in South Stoke has been bought by chartered surveyor Bob Goodman, who has lived in the area for nearly 60 years.
Mr Goodman, who has bought the grade two listed building from Punch Taverns after it was put up for sale two months ago, plans to live above the building with his family, and run his own practice from the ground floor.
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He says he wants to protect the building and that the pub is no longer viable, but his plans have unleashed a furious backlash from villagers, who have set up the Save the Packhorse committee.
Resident Richard Farrimond said: “The Packhorse is really the beating heart of the village and many regulars, from the village and surrounding areas, rely on it as a social hub.
“When so many country pubs are closing as they are no longer financially viable it seems tragic that one which is still very popular and profitable will be lost.
“Bath is being robbed of one of its oldest pubs.”
David Strickland, who lives in the village and has been drinking at the pub for 40 years, said the plan was “disgraceful”.
“I love the character of the pub and have met some lovely people there.
“Everybody wants it to stay as a pub, and we have many signatures of customers who don’t want to see it changed.”
Councillor Neil Butters (Lib Dem, Bathavon South) said: “This is not just a sudden shock but also a bitter blow to the village and village life. The Packhorse is almost synonymous with South Stoke - well-known, especially to walkers, throughout the area.”
Landlord Stephen Peart will be leaving the premises on Tuesday, with the last day of trading being this Sunday.
In a statement Mr Peart said: “There is a great deal of concern amongst villagers, regulars and those who believe that institutions such as The Packhorse should remain as a community asset. We wish them luck in whatever action that may wish to take forward.”
Mr Goodman, who is leaving city centre firm Brooks to set up his own practice, said: “Over the last few decades, the property has fallen into disrepair. Tenants have come and gone and have not been able to make the business viable. Little or no money has been invested into the property leaving this fine grade two listed 17th century property at risk.
“The desire to restore this building to its former glory is paramount if the building is to be saved. Previous tenants and owners have failed to understand how important this building is to South Stoke and the surrounding area.”
He said he and his wife Hilary regretted the closure of the pub but pointed out that more than 50 pubs closed every month in the UK.
The couple will submit an application for listed building consent for the renovation and repair of the building.
Mr Goodman, who yesterday reported a threat made to him outside his house to Bath police, said that the building had been sold with full vacant possession without a licence and added: “The campaign to keep the Packhorse open should not be directed to us.
“We purchased the building after it was on the open market for some time and are aware that other potential purchasers did also not intend to continue using the building as a pub.
“The village and the people on social networks have had ample opportunity to purchase the property. We were entitled to purchase the building, as was anybody else. We can only surmise that they did not wish to do so.
“People all over the area, whether local people or those who have never been to the Packhorse before, are, understandably, upset at the closure of a village pub. As with the local school and shop in the past, the pub is no longer a viable option.”
Villagers are meeting tonight to discuss their campaign. Punch declined to comment.