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Residents’ fight to save Penketh Tavern

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VIDEO: LAST orders have been called on the much loved Penketh Tavern pub at Warrington,

At an emotionally charged gathering last night (Thursday) locals and residents of the historic pub met to draw up plans to fight the sudden announcement by the building’s owners, Warrington Housing Asssosiation,  to call time on there beloved community hub.

In a letter received on Monday by leaseholder Maureen Stephens who has worked at the Tavern for 30 years, the owners outlined their plan to close the pub with immediate effect.

Although Maureen only recently signed a three year lease for the property there was a built in break clause giving the Association legal rights to close the building to public use. As many bookings had been taken an application for a stay of execution until January was refused on safety grounds. In a letter from David Cummins, Chief Executive of W.H.A. the decision to close the pub is final and cites issues of ongoing costs as the main reason for closure.

The pub is home for many groups and societies and boasts the areas oldest chess club which can trace its roots back to 1889 and they still meet on Wednesdays.

It is also home for two fishing clubs, two darts teams, a snooker team, and a bowling club. The Royal Air Force Association also hold their regular meetings there as do the Stroke Association who are provided with free use and tea and biscuits.

There is also a very popular bingo evening providing the only social interaction for several old people and the function room hosts regular charity events supporting, amongst others, St. Roccos and the Shannon Bradshaw Trust.

A spokesman for the R.A.F.A. said ” Closing the Tavern will be a huge blow to the annual Remembrance Sunday Celebrations. The memorial garden here, which locals have placed crosses and wreaths at, is the whole focal point for the parade. Not only do we lay our wreath here it is also where everybody meets afterwards with up to 300 participants coming together at the Tavern.

“The Memorial garden contains the ashes of former President of the Penketh Legion, Les Murdoch, and there are also crosses placed for Steven Birdsall and Tom Sephton who sadly lost their lives in Afghanistan.”

The building has been a large part of local history since it was built in 1880 for the Harrison-Bolton family who lived there until 1926 when it was bought by the Broadbents who owned shops in Warrington and still have a womens wear outlet in Stockton Heath.

Many of the original fixtures and fittings are still in place including the stained glass windows in the old chapel area and in the snooker room which used to be an orangery the cabinets and fire surround, originally built and fitted out by Garnetts Cabinets Works of Warrington, can still be seen.

Robert Garnett who founded the furniture company at the site which later became Woolworths was himself a Penketh resident. The house was sold again in 1953 to the Royal British Legion for £6000 before finally being acquired by the present owners.

With repairs estimated at £20,000 there are plans to try to raise money to help towards the costs with local tradesmen offering their services for free. But it is feared this will not be enough to reverse the decision to close the community hub.

A potential way forward is for the local people to apply to have the pub registered with the Council as an Asset of Community Value.

Parish councillor Lorraine Ashton, is reporting to the Parish Meeting on Wednesday and hopes the Council will support the efforts to save the Tavern.

Check out warrington-worldwide’s live broadcast with regulars who have rallied to try and save the Tavern.

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4 Comments

  1. Certainly not what one would expect from a provider/manager of social housing! Shame on you Warrington Housing Association!
    Good luck to those campaigning to keep the Penketh Tavern open to all. It is obviously a much needed Community Asset!

  2. Wow what a fantastic history the building has and I had no idea it was that old or such prominent people had once lived there. Lovely to see it still retains a lot of it’s original features too. If it is closed and presumably sold on or demolished to pave the way for housing what will happen to the memorial garden 🙁
    Has anyone contacted English Heritage as they might be interested due to it’s age and the fact it still has it’s old chapel and other features although without actually knowing what plans the WHA have for it (ie maybe possible demolition) I’m not sure what protection could be given.
    I’m sure WBC would list it as a Asset of Community Value if a submission was made though as they recently listed Lymms modern day bank building…..which has no history of special features other than just being a bank.
    I hope the campaigners are successful in saving their local community pub ‘hub’ and whatever is wrong with it can’t be that bad if it’s only going to cost £20k……maybe WHA could apply for a grant if they are too mean to pay for it themselves….or maybe the council could help…after all we need places like this if we are really going to be a City of Culture 😉

  3. It was an eye opener for me too Dizzy, when researching for the article it was like a trip through the history of Warrington. I loved finding out that the furniture and fit out of the original house was done by Garnetts, a genuinely iconic local site of interest and a surviving (just) piece of the towns industrial history.

  4. There was a chance to save Bewsey Old Hall, for the people of Warrington, for just £5,000 – the cost of one years maintenance whilst a bid for heritage funding was submitted. The then Lib Dem / Conservative council refused!
    Their refusal led to it being ‘gutted & stuffed’ and turned into yuppy apartments.

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