Campaign to save Barry boozer
RESIDENTS have gone into battle to defend award-winning boozer, The Castle, from being toppled to make way for seven flats.
Pub regulars have launched an internet campaign on social networking site Facebook and plan to write to Vale Council planners and the traditional pub's brewery - after Brains SA lodged a planning application to partially demolish the Jewel Street hotel and build apartments.
The Castle, which dates back to 1898 won the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend's Camra pub of the year competition and was runner up in the South and Mid Wales Camra regional pub of the year, both in 2008.
The pub has featured in the Good Pub Guide every year since 2007 and, as the book has gone to press, will be included in the 2013 edition - with the pub scheduled to close at the end of September 2012.
Former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable was among the contingent of customers from the Welsh Harp Inn who would travel to the hostelry to play pool and darts and drink with regulars.
Now punters are urging representatives from Brains to talk to them to see what could be done to save their favourite watering hole.
Barry resident and Castle user Jane Griffiths said: "The Admiral, Royal, Three Bells have already closed and the demise of The Castle would further deplete the number of pubs in Barry.
"I know the building is a little tired but it has soldiered on for the last few years and I am sure it could go on for a lot longer. There are many regulars of The Castle who treat it like a second home.
"The older generation rely on it to keep ties with friends and also as a way of seeing at times the only company that day."
Neil Avaient, 38, said he'd been visiting the pub for 20 years.
"It's the hub of the community," he said. "It's one of the nicest, friendly pubs you can come to and they want to know about you."
Anthony Hughes, 48, of Dock View Road, added: "It's a diabolical decision."
Licensees Graham and Brenda French, who have served at the pub for eight years, said the smoking ban, increased excise duty and bills, and cheap supermarket drink, had hit the pub trade hard and the brewery had made a straightforward, correct business decision.
Seventy-percent of the premises is no longer in use, but the rateable value is based on the whole building.
Graham said: "It's a back street pub and it doesn't make enough money for the size of the pub.
"But it will be sad for the customers."
Sales and marketing director at Brains, Richard Davies said: "As a pub operator the last thing we want is a closed pub.
"But sadly, despite the best efforts of Brains and the tenant, the pub is no longer commercially viable.
"Graham and Brenda are popular and experienced tenants and weÕre hopeful of finding them another pub."
To join the Facebook group, search Save The Castle Pub.
Views can be submitted to the Vale Council planning committee and Brains Brewery.