Landmark St Albans pub to be sold for housing

PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 March 2015

The Camp public house

The Camp public house

Archant

A city pub will soon be calling last orders for good, much to the dismay of its regulars.

The Camp in Camp Road, St Albans, will shut its doors to punters in mid-May after its owners, McMullens & Sons, announced the site has been sold to developer Howarth Homes.

The pub has been run by Hertford-based McMullens & Sons since before 1905.

Managing director, Peter Furness-Smith, said: “We have decided to accept the offer for The Camp as the number of customers using the pub has continued to decline despite the pub being extremely well operated following a significant investment in 2013.

He added that beer sales had declined by over 80% since their peak.

He went on: “We are reluctant sellers of pubs, particularly those that we have owned and invested in for many years.

“However the real prospect of further central and local government restrictions on pub owners mean we might miss this very good opportunity to fund further investments into some of our other pubs in good locations.”

Kevin Lea, CAMRA’S South Herts press officer, said: “CAMRA are once again saddened to hear the news of yet another McMullen pub closure and sale in St Albans – this is the second this year – following the Blue Anchor.

“It seems to represent an abandonment of St Albans with only The Peahen remaining in its ownership in the city. McMullens have sold almost a dozen pubs to property developers in the last year or so and Hertfordshire is mainly the net loser – new acquisitions by the company have largely been in London or elsewhere in the Home Counties.

He added: “Whilst we accept that the company will continually be re-shaping its tied estate, the acceleration in this activity and the recent nature of it is of concern.”

He criticised the company’s “direct-dealing” with property developers, which he said had become “common practice”, leading to prospective pub-buyers “locked out of an opportunity to bid.”

He went on: “Another community pub is lost. This route is hardly endearing the company to local drinkers.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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