Historic St Albans pub the Rose and Crown to stay in tenants’ hands

Nigel Wild at the Rose & Crown with the petition

Nigel Wild at the Rose & Crown with the petition - Credit: Archant

A 16th century pub will remain in the hands of its loyal tenants after Punch Taverns’ bosses stepped in to block efforts to evict the pair.

Celebratory pints are being poured at the Rose and Crown in St Michael’s Street after Nigel Wild and Gary Hatchman were told that landlords Punch Taverns would begin negotiating a new lease early next year.

Last week, after being contacted by the pub’s supporters and the Herts Advertiser the company, which had said it wanted to replace Nigel and Gary with its own employees, backed down and admitted to the men that it had been a ‘mistake’ to threaten to end their lease.

As revealed in this paper last Thursday, Nigel and Gary, who jointly run the pub, had entered into what they were led to believe was a long-term, renewable lease with Punch Taverns in April last year.

But, although the men spent tens of thousands of pounds renovating the traditional public house, the company instructed lawyers to terminate their agreement, despite assurances the lease would be rolled over in April next year.

Patrons and supporters of the 457-year-old Rose and Crown joined the pub’s fight to stop Punch Taverns from forcing Nigel and Gary from the establishment, with nearly 1,500 people signing a petition.

Nigel said: “I got a call from the area manager asking for a meeting, and they brought their chief executive who said ‘I’m terribly sorry, there has been a dreadful mistake’.”

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Punch Taverns had apparently sent them a letter ‘by mistake’ informing them the lease would not be renewed and that as a result, negotiations would shortly resume.

A thrilled Nigel said: “We feel great. It’s a very good Christmas present. I was so exhausted with the stress of it all, that when the meeting was all over I just fell asleep. It is such a relief. Thanks to everyone for their help.”