Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cause for concern

Good morning,

   I had decided to go through the engaging Classic Basic Unspoilt Pubs of Great Britain (2004) list to make sure by way of Internet searches that (given no English Heritage/CAMRA pub group updates have surfaced in February), all is ticketyboo in the world of unspoilt pub gems. Yet, a fleeting search on my first pub reveals bad things.

Now its useful to issue a caveat here. I am not technically minded enough to work out when the following website entry was created. According to clicking properties its today, but that could be an Internet or computer "in joke" that refuses to list the time the content was originally uploaded.

Either way, if said link is to be believed, bad things are on the horizon for the National Inventory Part 1 listed New Inn at Hadlow Down, Sussex.

Now, its awkward for me, because its chuffing miles away so am unlikely to be down there any time soon to seek clarification to this story. But if you put that inconvenient truth aside for a while, I can plough on regardless with the following scare mongering.

According to an architect, there are plans afoot to completely ruin the New Inn. See crap idea to homogenise otherwise outstanding pub , for a balanced and unbiased opinion on the proposals for this earmarked for destruction pub. Basically, it seems someone (no clients listed, but I assume that's industry standard) wants the pub to be a thriving accommodation and dining venue. Which is fine. Ironically, the pub was a hotel not that long ago, and there is always money to be made in food. although as Tim Martin of Wetherspoons points out, you are taxed on food as well as beer...

Anyhoo, the architect suggests the pub should be turned into a rented rooms atopped restaurant with an unchanged public bar. Now I have been in said bar, *and its fairly unique. Even if it was retained, I can't see it being a good idea to then context-fuck the rest of the building with imported Mediterranean shrubs, glass and wood, and "contemporary" features that leech authenticity from the location as a single, historical edifice. Hence my catchy subtitle for the link. If you are interested to see what the pub looks like at sort of now, here is a much more enjoyable link, to its listing on the National Inventory : New Inn, Hadlow Down exterior and interior .

Not that the tinterweb hosted plans have much detail, but we've all seen the same listless, unremarkable, modern by numbers drivel played out across the UK's pub stock, so why would we think the plans here are any different? Like I say, this plan may already have been dismissed, but if the threat exists that they haven't been, then its imperative to say that this is a truly gross idea.

I am acutely aware that when I visited in  2008 the pub was quite down at heel, presumably struggling, but even though there is optimism for the architectural features preservation (such as the curved bar ceiling), I am failing to see any positive indicators from this plan, and instead perceive that this is a precursor to the pub being turned into another foodie place with an unavoidable  embarrassing nod to its past attached, much like the dreadful Hatch at Colemans Hatch not too far away. Mind you, unfriendly restaurant or not, the Hatch does at least still look like a chocolate box country pub. As a forewarning of what awaits, if the plans for the New Inn are followed, the assessment of both pubs by comparison would be this. One pub will lose its reason for existence and outward and much of its inward appearance, whilst the other retains its outward charm, but has already lost its soul. So nobody wins.

So does anyone know what the plans are for the New Inn?

If this is the actual intended demise (sorry, money soiled renaissance) of the pub, could you let me know?

many thanks

Wee Beefy.

*see Wee Beefy's Kentish Casks in the drop down list of posts on the left. Its the first one I posted....


  1. Raises an interesting question, though, as to what extent it is acceptable to extend a historic pub to ensure its viability while retaining the historic core? A good example of this is the Sun at Leintwardine which has a modernistic extension that deliberately provides a contrast rather than attempting to "blend in". The risk is that you might preserve the architecture, but lose the character.

    1. I completely agree - I went to the Sun just before the villagers started to run it (never made it when Flossie was there) and yes on returning last year the extension is bizarre to say the least - undoubtedly more space was required to make it more viable but at such a heavy cost? Really shameful behaviour.

      I note the New Inn is Grade 2 listed, but am unsure what level of protection this affords. The positive spin is that, if like the Buck and Bell at Long Itchington this work enables the building to remain intact , then the architecture is retained, but as you correctly noted, it loses the character. I am a great fan of the N.I but when it comes to basic unspoilt pubs their very simplicity and in the case of the New Inn faded grandeur is their real attraction.

  2. A quick addition by the way - I added a link to the NI photo's and description of the New Inn to provide a contrast. I also added a comparative assessment of the Hatch. I think the Hatch serves as a warning to the New Inn, if not in its appearance, certainley its character (or lack of).