Fringe Box



The Ash Aspect: Where Have All The Pubs Gone?

Published on: 22 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2017

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-18-06-54By David Reading

The pub – the heart of our social lives. At least, it used to be. Walking through Ash the other day, I was reminded of the large number of pubs that once existed in the village. Most of them have now closed.

The Nightingale, Normandy. All pictures either taken by the late Mark Sturley, local pub and brewery historian, in the 1980s, or from his archive collection. Click to enlarge all pictures in a new window.

Coming from the Normandy direction, you had the Nightingale on the right hand side. This is now an Indian restaurant.

The Dover Arms, Ash.

A bit further on there was the Dover Arms. The pub closed around eight years ago following the landlord’s retirement and the building soon became derelict. It was demolished in 2012 and today it is used for parking as an extension to the nearby car showroom.

The Chester Arms, Ash.

The Chester Arms, near Ash railway station, has been demolished and replaced by flats.

The Kings Head, Ash.

Further on, past St Peter’s Church, we had the King’s Head, popular for its large beer garden. This was also replaced by flats.

The Cannon, Ash.

Opposite the King’s Head there was the Cannon, popular with travellers. In 1999 planning permission was granted to convert the pub into two cottages, called Cannon House and Cannon Cottage, and this is how it remains today.

The Bricklayers Arms, Ash. Circa 1920.

Further on we had the Bricklayers Arms. A planning application was approved in 2010 for the demolition of the pub and the building of new houses.

The Pheonix, Ash, formerly The Cricketers.

The Cricketers in Star Lane, known at another time as the Phoenix, was also demolished and replaced with homes.

The Standard of England, Ash Vale, Circa 1900.

Finally we have the Standard of England building in Ash Vale – still standing but vacant since 2012. In 2015, the supermarket chain Morrison’s was granted planning permission by Guildford Borough Council to develop the site and open a convenience store. But I understand the land has been acquired by Vale Furnishers and it’s not yet clear what will happen to it.

So what’s the story behind the huge number of pub closures, not only locally but throughout the country?

Working for a licensed trade newspaper back in 1980 I picked up an early hint that pub landlords were desperately worried for the future.

The big story then was the threat from supermarkets, which were able to sell alcoholic drink much cheaper than the pubs could, and this was making it tempting for people to stay at home and have a drink.

The pubs were losing trade. And of course, people’s tastes change. The pub I used to visit in Guildford in the 1960s was packed shoulder to shoulder every Saturday night with people my age. But a night out at the pub is no longer quite so attractive for many young people and this has had a huge impact on trade.

Other factors have exacerbated the decline. Many landlords have found it increasingly hard to keep trading, faced with business rate increases, VAT on food and high rents.

They have also had to live with legislative changes that occurred in the 1990s. Campaigners tell me this altered the structure of the beer industry, leading to the creation of pub companies, which had no brewing operations but continued to maintain a tie on the pubs.

Many pub companies, so I’m told, viewed their estates as a property company would. Consequently pubs were more highly valued for their land and the value of the property – which saw many of them sold off for housing or other purposes. It’s all part of the commercial world we live in.

A friend of mine tells me that when he was a lot younger going to the pub acted as a kind of therapy. He regarded his local landlord as a confidant, or even his psycho-analyst. He certainly came home feeling a lot better for an evening down the pub, or maybe it was just the drink working.

Were people more sociable then, or am I viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses? Whatever the truth, the era of the pub as the centre of our social lives seems to have gone forever.

Share This Post

Responses to The Ash Aspect: Where Have All The Pubs Gone?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 22, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Local pubs once were a source of community and local togetherness. It is a great shame they became financially unviable.

    Gone are the days when directions were down to the ‘New Inn’ across the junction left at ‘the Swan’, end of the road, right at the ‘Rose and Crown’, it’s three houses past the ‘Royal Oak’.

    I guess many old timers had different versions of these directions. Now the few that are left have ‘modern names’ with ‘modern themes’ and make no real sense at all. For example the ‘Slug and Lettuce’, ‘the village Inn’ (in where?) simply don’t sound the same

    Oh for the old days of the village pub!

  2. Angus Varley Reply

    January 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Very interesting article. How many pubs remain in Ash?

    Ed: The Greyhound, Ash; Lion Brewery, Ash; and the Swan, Ash Vale; Old Ford, Ash Vale; Napiers, Ash Vale. Can anyone add any more?]

  3. Sheila Brinkworth Reply

    January 24, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    if you include lost pubs in Ash Vale there were two more I remember along Vale Road and Frimley Road. First the Ash Vale, now flats, right by Ash Vale station.

    I used to go to firework displays there in the 1980s, and then further down on the left the George, now demolished and houses there now, I think.

    Is the Anglers Rest still there?

  4. John Lomas Reply

    January 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Anyone interested in our lost pubs around the Guildford area might like to peruse this page and its associated links.

    Some of them are probably before our readers’ memories.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *