Letter: Protect West Chiltington pub

I am writing with reference to your story on the development plans for the ‘Elephant & Castle’ former public house in Church Street, West Chiltington.

My maternal Great Grandfather was running this establishment before the First World War, some 99 years ago in 1913.

My family and I still reside in the village today.

Having spoken to a number of people in the immediate community, I feel that there is a strong consensus of opinion that needs to be reported in support of the re-establishment of the pub.

A number of inaccuracies appear to have arisen; effectively pushing the argument in favour of re-development and it is only fair that these should be addressed.

The large garden which belongs to the pub has not already been used for new houses as reported, the boundaries in fact having remained unchanged from times dating back to when the adjacent land was in use as a pig farm.

The garden and parking facilities, being a major part of the pubs’ attraction, offering a safe and spacious family orientated environment.

This facility also lending itself to a number of outside events over the years; including ‘tug of war’ competitions, with teams travelling from as far as Dorset, dog shows’ beer festivals and motorbike rally’s. All of which proved exceedingly popular and well attended, providing testimony to the success of the pub and it’s integral part within village life.

The loss of the Elephant & Castle would surely be yet another blow to the infrastructure of the local community.

Especially at a time when so many rural and semi-rural businesses and amenities are being lost, turning villages into effectively residential areas that are simply no more than glorified housing estates.

West Chiltington, with a previous total of three public houses and a population approaching four thousand people could hardly be described as ‘over endowed’ with social gathering places.

Also, contrary to claims of not being able to find new tenants to continue the running of the pub, this has certainly not been the case, with no interest being shown to offers from prospective parties, in lieu of an obvious preference for re-development.

This is as headlined in your article ‘an ancient village pub’ and therefore part of our national heritage, should be given every opportunity to remain as such.

Please could you show your support by attending a meeting dealing with the prospective replacement planning on Tuesday 7th February at the Parish Office in Church Street at 7.30 pm.

Finally thanks to Andy Steele, Steve Mustchin and Ernie Berwick for their support and contributions in writing this letter.

M.J.W HOBBS

Broadford Bridge Road

West Chiltington