Ellesmere Port residents have taken to social media to speculate on what the future holds for the site of a town centre pub which closed earlier this month.
The Thomas Telford on Whitby Road was one of 45 pubs being disposed of nationally by operator Wetherspoon for ‘commercial’ reasons, it was disclosed last year.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said at the time: “We appreciate that our loyal customers will be disappointed with the decision.
“Like other companies Wetherspoon has to take commercial decisions which, while beneficial for the company, might not always be welcome by customers.”
Joint selling agents CBRE and Savills suggested the 45 pubs represented ‘an excellent opportunity to acquire high volume businesses with strong food sales in established locations which are fitted to an extremely high standard’.
The local branch of CAMRA said the Ellesmere Port pub’s closure ‘could leave the town centre a beer desert’.
A spokesman for Wetherspoon said: “All staff are being relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs in the area including The Wheatsheaf in Ellesmere Port and our pubs in Chester so there will be no job losses as a result of this closure.”
There were mixed views on the Pride in the Port website with some referring to patrons consuming alcohol in the pub at 8am.
But Ann Patricia Pearson posted: “I for one am very sad it closed. It was a great meeting place for all kinds of people whether you worked or not.”
For the future, Jenny Davies posted: “The staff have been offered to relocate. Spoons is only closed for a refurbishment. Then reopening as a sports bar. Snooker. Pool. Darts. Sky TV Football. So it’s not all doom and gloom.”
She believed it would reopen in September as an Amber Taverns sports bar although CAMRA suggested November-December.
Blackpool-based Amber say on their website: “It is our mission to show that the great British community pub is both relevant and viable by developing thriving wet led businesses at the heart of their community offering a friendly environment for responsible drinkers.
“We strive to provide the best pub experience in our area with old fashioned standards of service and quality, selling well known brands at competitive prices and featuring the best of sport on the latest audio visual equipment.”
With 120 pubs across the north west, the north east, the midlands and Wales, mainly community locals in busy towns, they add: ”We are passionate about our public houses and the communities that they serve. We ensure that they are refurbished to a very high standard.”
Amber had not commented at the time of writing.
Meanwhile Little Sutton resident Peter Zemroch, who has previously raised the number of pub closures in the town, has contacted organisations including Wetherspoon and CAMRA to say: “Wetherspoons have just closed the Thomas Telford which was the last pub left in Ellesmere Port town centre.
“This seems a very strange decision as the pub has always seemed busy when I have visited. Shoppers and local residents now have nowhere to enjoy a pint and the old high street has become a ghost town in the evening.
“Competition from the Thomas Telford was directly responsible for the closure and subsequent demolition of The Knot next door.
“Wetherspoons have another outlet, the Wheatsheaf, in Ellesmere Port’s suburbs. Competition from this pub must have been a factor in the closure of the Sutton Way and the Ellesmere Arms nearby, both of which were sold to Tesco’s.”
He argues the company ‘has become a major catalyst for pub closures’.
Wetherspoon has replied to Mr Zemroch saying it has noted his points and adding: “We also understand that the pub’s regular customers will be disappointed, however Wetherspoon, like many other companies, has to make commercial decisions.
“We decided that we wished to operate one pub in the town instead of the two and are pleased that no jobs were lost as a result of the closure.”
The Salvation Army separately occupies the first floor of the premises on a let running to 2022 and bookmakers William Hill are in an adjoining unit in the same ownership as the pub with a let until 2019.