A prominent Whitchurch pub has been demolished this week, following its closure and sale by Punch Taverns to property developer Lochailort Investments. The Railway Hotel has long served both local residents and travellers but suffered from a lack of investment and support from its Pub Company owners.
Just hours before the bulldozers started their destructive work the bar was still set, with hard fought over trophies still on display, flowers still in vases, and even beer mats still on the tables. Once a home to many pub teams and a popular venue for music, quizes and other events, it is now just a pile of rubble. And the site is being flattened despite there being no planning permission for a Change of Use having been granted.
Whitchurch has always been known for its wide variety of pubs, but this is now at serious risk as pub closures reach an all time high.
This loss of another local pub comes in the same week that the Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee issued its report demanding major reform to the way Pub Companies operate, and threatened statutory intervention.
Many see the restrictive practices and trading conditions they impose on many of their licensees to be the root cause of pub closures, leading to the loss of a major feature of Britain’s heritage.
Update: A video of the demolition is HERE; another video with the reaction by a CAMRA regional director who lives in Whitchurch is HERE. A local campaign that tried to save the pub is at http://www.savetherailwayhotel.org.uk/