A historic pub dating back to the 1800s has been put on the market, prompting backlash from regulars who fear for its future.
The Hope and Anchor in Pontefract was put up for sale by owners Punch Taverns last week. The move has sparked concern amongst locals and already more than 800 people have signed a petition to ‘save’ the pub.
They fear the building could be redeveloped, marking an end to its 120-year-long history as a community watering hole.
Tenant David Hallaways, 44, has been the landlord for two years. He said: “The pub has been standing where it is and trading since 1892. It is one of the longest serving pubs in Pontefract. What people are worried about is that it might end up not being a pub anymore and that it could be redeveloped to become something else.”
Launched on campaign website 38 degrees last week, the petition calls on the pub owners not to sell the facility to become offices or flats. It states: “The Hope and Anchor is an integral part of the community and we should be saving these historical institutions.”
Mr Hallaways said: “I’m quite overwhelmed by the response. I think people have had enough of their local pubs closing.”
The pub, which is listed on property websites for an asking price of £195,000, sits on North Baileygate, just metres away from the town’s medieval castle. It is part of the Pontefract Castle conservation area, drawn up by Wakefield Council in 2010.
According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) pub guide website ‘What Pub?’, the building was originally a house, and was first converted into a pub in 1805. It is believed to be the first pub outside Knottingley to be run by Carters Knottingley Brewery Company.
Formerly known as Tinkler’s Stone Inn, it was rebuilt in 1892 by Pontefract architect J.H. Greaves.
Mr Hallaways said he also believed the building had links with a former hospital in the area, treating the poor and injured troops from the castle, before it became a pub.
Paul Cartwright, chairman of Pontefract Civic Society, said the pub sits in an area that played a key role in Pontefract’s history. He said: “It’s exterior façade is of interest and is pleasing to the eye. We are also aware that the Hope and Anchor has a vibrant music scene which is something of interest to the wider community, especially set against the increased rate of pub closures across the UK.
“The site is between land previously occupied by St John’s Priory, All Saint’s Church and Pontefract Castle.
“As such this area of Pontefract was rich in industrial and social history including numerous maltsters, pottery, milling and liquorice.”
The pub hosts regular live music nights, providing a performance platform for local talent. It is also home to the Pontefract Scooter Club, which stages several events to raise money for local charities including the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Just last month, the pub was the base for two dance nights, organised by the scooter club, which generated hundreds of pounds for the Prince of Wales Hospice.
“We aren’t the busiest pub, but we have a purpose”, Mr Hallaways said. “This is a fantastic building and we do a lot for the local community.”
A spokesman for operator Punch Taverns said: “The Hope and Anchor is a pub where, despite the best efforts of our publican, we have unfortunately seen a long-term decline in sales.
“We have therefore taken the decision to place the pub on the open market for sale.
“This is not a choice we take lightly and it will always be our preference to sell the property for ongoing use as a pub.
“We would welcome enquiries from the local community or individuals who are interested in the purchase of the Hope and Anchor.”