Patrons fight on to secure future of St Albans pub

The Camp public house in Camp Road closed yesterday (Thursday, May 14), two days earlier than expect

The Camp public house in Camp Road closed yesterday (Thursday, May 14), two days earlier than expected - Credit: Archant

A campaign to list a city pub that suddenly closed last week as an asset of community value has gained close to 600 signatures.

The Camp in Camp Road, St Albans, was due to shut its doors to punters last Saturday, May 16 after its owners, McMullens & Sons, announced the site has been sold to developer Howarth Homes.

However, despite a sign displayed behind the bar citing its last day of trade as May 16, a decision was made to close on Thursday, May 14.

Retail director of McMullens & Sons, Heydon Mizon, confirmed the earlier closure was due to fear of threat to the property and ensuring staff safety, following an attempted arson attack on an employee’s car and burglary.

But upset regulars are still hoping to thwart the developer’s plans for development or demolition of the site.

Steve Bury, who started the petition on campaigning website, 38 degrees, to call on the district council to list the pub, said: “The Camp was sold directly to property developers even though it was a viable community pub serving a large area of the city.

“There is nowhere else locally for people to go; the Old Mile House closed quite a while ago and people who work in the pub next door now have no chance of popping to the pub on their lunch break.

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“There was a big, good core that used to go in there regularly for karaoke, quiz nights and the darts and pool teams and now they have all lost that.”

As the council has eight weeks to consider the application, the developer is prohibited from doing anything to the pub that had been run by Hertford-based McMullens & Sons since before 1905.

Longstanding pub patron of seven and a half years, Adam Rayner, said: “Unfortunately it just seems to be the way of the world these days if there is a good commercial offer.

“I think the problem was that though it was a good community pub at its core it was losing money and though it tried to do food on the odd occasion, it couldn’t be turned into a gastro pub because of its location and clientele.”

He added that he was only made aware of the decision to close the pub at the last minute which he described as a “poor decision”.

“There were people coming down on a coach all the way from Sunderland who used to work at the pub years ago to have one last drink on Friday evening who were left disappointed.

“McMullens & Sons pretend to be a family pub but quite honestly they don’t care and I think it was a typical decision of a corporate, hard-nosed company.”

Heydon Mizon confirmed that an arson attack on March 20 and an overnight burglary on April 17, when someone broke in and stole over £3000 in cash, had forced the pub’s early closure.

He added: “In addition to these incidents our manager made us aware of rumours and raised her concerns that a small group of previously banned customers planned to visit just prior to closure and effectively take retribution.”

He went on: “As is usual in situations such as this a small number of unruly customers ruined things for no doubt a number of other loyal guests on what should have been a respectful final night in the pub.”