In July 2016, the Doncaster branch of CAMRA launched a 'Save Our Pub' campaign for the Coach and Horses at Barnburgh.
This pub was given ACV status in November 2015 by Doncaster MBC and is also Grade II listed and on the CAMRA National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors as there are many original features, including a 1970's mural of 'Andy Capp' on the wall of the Tap Room.
We heard that the company running the pub were not going to renew their lease at the end of 2016 and some of us paid the pub a few visits to see what was going on. The previous landlord had left, a lady was in charge for a couple of weeks and then a new manager was brought in at the end of May. The number of real ales on sale had dropped to just one and even that is not selling very well... Why? Because not many people are using the pub.
Doncaster Free Press contacted CAMRA about running a series of articles in the local papers, The Star, Free Press and others. At very short notice we asked if local members could get to the pub on a Saturday afternoon as a photographer form the paper was coming over. The article was front page of The Star on Monday 4 July and in that week's Doncaster Free Press too. If you've not seen that click here.
This is a campaign of raising awareness, not to cause problems for the pub or do battle with the lease holders. Sadly, there is a vicious circle where a pub gets a reputation of being a bit run down and hardly anyone going in, so other people shy away and just don't bother. This is where we need to let people know that they should bother, this is a fine village pub that has a lot of history. It needs customers if it is to remain viable for the future. Pub companies looking to take on the lease need to know it will be supported and that it is an investment worth making.
If real ale drinkers want pubs like this to continue selling real ale then they should go and drink real ale there. Little point the person running it having good beer on offer that nobody buys. It is very much a 'use it of lose it' situation.
Update, Aug 7th - sadly, it's a case of lose it. The landlord has pulled the real ale off the bar and does not intend putting it back . He says the last one he put on only sold two and a half pints so he had to throw over eight gallons away when it went off.
Events were being planned at the pub. A signer was booked and the event promoted - only 7 people turned up. Locals are not interested it seems, the few that do go in only seem to want the cold fizzy stuff.
We are looking at what we can do to try and support the pub but if people are not going in there is a strong possibility the pub will close and not re-open. We cannot force people to drink there and now the real ale has gone we cannot even try to entice our members to visit.
The sad news is that the Coach & Horses closed its doors on December 18th, no new lease has been arranged and the pub is now being put up for sale.
News also reached us that the Lonsdale in Intake closed on December 30th. Greene King have claimed that it no longer fits their local portfolio and this pub is also being put up for sale.
We need help from our members in letting us know if pubs are in danger like that so we can take action.
January 5th: CAMRA in St Albans have told us that they are no longer creating the paperwork for ACV applications as one of their team is leaving. We are told that CAMRA's campaigns team will instead be focusing on lobbying the government to remove permitted development rights from all pubs.
March 10th. We've had letters from DMBC to advise that the Leopard and the Railway have been accepted for ACV's. This is good news as it had been thought at one point that The Railway may have been lost in the redevelopment plans around the railway station and West Street. We have managed to gain reassurance from DMBC that all 4 pubs in the zone are safe.
As noted above, CAMRA have changed their focus from individual applications after the win in the House of Lords last month following the decision of Peers to support an amendment which removes permitted development rights for the conversion or demolition of pubs. This amendment secured a majority of 90 and will shortly return to the House of Commons for its final reading.