Comment: Why calling time on our old abandoned pubs can be good

The Sun Inn, High Street, Markyate, as it looked soon after its closure in 2013. Picture: Ashtons

The Sun Inn, High Street, Markyate, as it looked soon after its closure in 2013. Picture: Ashtons - Credit: Archant

We all love a conversion and the kind that crop up most often these days do tend to be pubs.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) say they're closing at a rate of 14 a week, which is an astonishing statistic, not to mention a sad one for those who depend on their local for on-tap socialising, particularly in remote areas.

Luckily Markyate residents still have a choice of boozers, meaning the loss of The Sun Inn in December 2013 hasn't been too traumatic.

After lying empty for years, it's recently been turned into a four-bed family house with the inevitable handful of new houses built on its car park.

It looks great, and developer Jamie Noble has done an excellent job of blending the old and the new. Placing the kitchen counter where the bar once stood was a nice touch, and the original flagstone flooring in the snug blends beautifully with the engineered oak in the adjoining kitchen/diner.

There's no shortage of quirky touches either, with cubby holes, tiny doorways and the odd ridiculously low ceiling. I love the cellar-turned-cinema room, which has a bottom section that can only be accessed via a trap door.

Pub conversions are close to my heart - my dad used to work in one. This was a long way removed from the swish Sun Inn Coach House, however.

As a young joiner in the 1970s, he bought a fire damaged pub to use as his workshop. Rather than dragging the place into modern times, he turned it into an explosion of woodchips.

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I loved trying to imagine what it had looked like its glory era, when they apparently sold pickled snails as an unlikely bar snack. You took your life in your hands with a walk around upstairs, though - the fire had left gaping holes in the floor.

As my dad drifted into semi-retirement he sold up to a chap who wanted to bulldoze the building and turn it into a funeral directors. In an interesting twist, the guy gave him a job.

I'm not sure this new build is an improvement on the decaying pub-turned-workshop, but as with all things property-related, that's a matter of opinion.