BRANCH COMMITTEE NEWS
Despite a very last minute change of venue, the Branch had another successful committee meeting on Wednesday 22 February. The date and venue of the next committee meeting, as well as future social events, can be found here Branch Diary: future events
The draft minutes of Branch Committee meetings are now available here Branch Committee Meetings - Minutes and Agenda; the Agenda for the next meeting will be posted here nearer the date.
We are currently advertising for two new volunteer branch posts, namely a Young Members Officer and a Clubs Officer. Full details and how to apply can be found here Desperately Seeking Help!!. We will shortly also be advertising for a Pub Liaison Officer. Details will appear shortly on the same page.
BRANCH PUB, CIDER PUB AND CLUB OF THE YEAR 2017
A winner in each category, based on members votes, have been chosen. These can be seen here Medway Branch Awards - 2017.
HOW TO LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT REAL ALE THAN YOU REALLY DO (BUT, PLEASE DONT BECOME A BEER BORE)
Christine Cryne gives you her advice in the Daily Telegraph here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/look-like-know-beer-really-do/
LOCAL PUB NEWS, REAL AND FAKE (AND, RUMOURS - SADLY NOT THE ONE BY FLEETWOOD MAC)
Diamond Geezer's New Year resolution was to cut down the number of rumours published here. However, like most New Year resolutions it didn't last beyond the end of January!
First the good news.................................................................................
The Railway at Rainham remains boarded up, but as anticipated, following the rejection of the original planning application, Wetherspoons have now submitted a revised planning application for the conversion of the closed pub into Spoons third Medway establishment. The controversial roof terrace/garden has now gone and the proposed extension is now lower in height. Hopefully, it gets approved this time. More details can be found here http://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway/news/second-time-lucky-for-wetherspoon-121050/
Another firm piece of news for a change. A planning application for a micro pub in Rochester High Street between the Northern Seaman and the Flippin Frog has now been approved by Medway councillors despite a rejection recommendation by planners. It's the shop premises with dark frontage with the boarded up window in the adjacent picture.
Rumours (yes, back to them again) suggest this latest addition to Medway's vibrant micro pub scene could be opening in March. Branch members who are familiar with it's previous dual history, i.e. a gents hairdressers and a public toilet, have suggested that a suitable name would be "The Hair of the Bog". UPDATE However, latest word on the street is that the folk behind this proposal may be having second thoughts, or at least a rethink. It would be appreciated if anybody who has firm news about the present position could either email myself firstname.lastname@example.org@ or post on the Branch FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/331001837948/ .
According to local social media (not of the CAMRA variety) The Alexandra Hotel in Chatham has had a bit of a re-launch earlier this month, and now serves a basic food menu (plus tea and coffee) from 0900 - 1630. However, rumours continue to suggest that it is only selling bottled beers.
Anybody old enough to remember "Tell Sid"? Very recently Sid was at my house undertaking the annual boiler service and maintenance. He lives on St Mary's Island, and mentioned that Sheps were planning to open a new pub in that area very close to the Ship and Trades. That's a good rumour I thought. Well shiver my timbers, it's true (well it must be, it's in the Friday 10th February edition of the Medway Messenger). Whilst Shepherd Neame spokespeople have apparently remained "tight lipped" (which must make it difficult to drink a pint or two of Spitfire Gold) they have admitted that a unit at Chatham Quays has been earmarked. UPDATE Sheps have now submitted a planning application.
The Cricketers, Sturdee Avenue, Gillingham has now reopened following a major refurbishment/renovation curtesy of Punch Taverns. The pub will be run by entrepreneur Tony Healy who apparently has 16 years experience in the licenced trade and has a small portfolio of seven pubs in London and the South East.
Medway Council have rejected plans to convert The Barge into flats. The now empty pub was sold at auction in May 2016 for £215,000. The grounds for rejection were apparently that they (the existing plans) would involve removing original features and that they were not in keeping with the road which is a conservation area. Anyone interested in drawing up an ACV application, and submitting it to Medway Council?
Finally a ray of sunshine for Central Gillingham. The Monarch in Arden Street has now reopened. Whilst apparently still going to be owned by Shepard Neame, it appears it has been leased to a new landlord on the basis that it will be a Free House. Two to three real ales are usually on sale, at least one of which is usually a more "interesting" ale. We wish it well.
Now the not so good news......................................................................
Now I know that Burham is on the farthest reaches of the Branch area, and in Medway is classed as rural, but news obviously travels very slowly in these here parts as we only found out in January that the pub had closed last August and there was talk of a planning application for conversion back to a house (or, flats). UPDATE. Seemingly somebody is interested in reopening it as a village pub, and is in negotiations to buy it.
The Victoria Cross (aka The Gurkha Village), Lordswood, Chatham, was severely damaged by fire on the morning of 11 January, apparently caused by an electrical fault. The establishment has a bit of a split personality: is it a pub with a restaurant attached or restaurant with a substantial pub type bar attached? It has in recent times been known as a pub that does not sell real ale, although a reliable (allegedly) local Branch member claims that it was selling real ale in the latter part of last year. It had been up for sale for a considerable part of 2016, and rumours suggested that it might be heading for a future life as flats and/or as a building plot. After the fire a spokesperson for the owners told the local press that a considerable effort had been put into redecorating the pub in the run up to Christmas. Hopefully the owners will recover from this disaster.
Award for the shortest time in the Good News section goes to..........."The proposed Parkwood micro pub". We now understand that a planning application to convert the existing bakers in Parkwood, Rainham into a micro pub has been withdrawn as the existing baker has now decided to lease the premises to another baker. So the wait for a suitable watering hole in an area devoid of pubs (or, at least proper pubs) goes on.
The rumour that another micro pub planning application, this time for premises at the old Rochester Railway Station (?? the old taxi office) appears to have hit the buffers and is no longer on the timetable.
Branch members have reported that building work not commensurate with reopening as a pub has been seen at the Marquis of Lorne. One of the builders has a told a member that the downstairs is being converted into a shop with upstairs going the way of flats. Anybody seen a planning application? Surely not permitted development!!
The Sans Pareil, Frindsbury Hill, Strood is currently up for sale. Details can be found here http://www.rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/property-62573279.html
Churchills in the Brook, Chatham has had it's licence revoked by the local licencing authorities. Not a real ale establishment, but a pub nevertheless. Not clear whether this will be permanent or will reopen after a period of closure. Full story here http://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway/news/pub-loses-licence-after-stabbing-114638/
. Joining the ever lengthening list of closed (or closing) pubs in the Towns is the Old Lord Raglan on Chatham Hill. This pub finally closed a few months ago and a planning application for conversion into flats has now been submitted to Medway Council.
The Countryman, Gillingham. An application to turn the pub into two houses and four flats has been approved by Medway Council's planning committee. This is old news, but I make no apologies for keeping it here for the time being so we can remember the architectural and actual history of this special 'now ex' boozer!!
It reads as a conversion rather than a demolition and rebuild job, so hopefully there might yet be some protection for the exceptional tiling!! I'm indebted to Wilbur Felis for the comment "Aside from the loss of a pub, it is very easy to forget that this is the only proper memorial to the Sappers from 3rd Sappers and Miners (later part of the Corps of Royal Engineers) who died at Ghuznee in Afghanistan (probably completely ignored when the name changed from Ghuznee Fort), during the first Afghan war in 1839. Or are we expected to ignore such things nowadays as they remind us of our colonial past?"
. Another recently closed pub in that part of Gillingham is The United Services in Arden Street, Gillingham. The pub was one of 154 lots recently listed for sale by Kent auctioneers, and regulars on BBC1's Homes under the Hammer, Clive Emson, and was sold with planning permission to be redeveloped into nine flats. Final selling price was in the direction of the half a million pounds mark.
Going, going, gone. The final goodbye to one of Medway's music gig venues. The Beacon Court Tavern is currently boarded up around the building as work begins, presumably converting it to flats.
THAT DIDN'T LAST LONG!!
Medway social media (not CAMRA linked) are suggesting that Mcdoodys (nee the Livingstone Arms) in Gillingham is now up for sale at around £90,000. Guess that is for the restaurant part only, and that the rest of the building will be (if not already) turned into flats. Nothing more was heard about the proposal to reopen a small pub/bar in part of the building.
NOT SO LOCAL PUB NEWS
. Very sad news is that, despite a public campaign, the council (Tonbridge & Malling) recently approved the proposal to develop the The Little Gem in Aylesford into housing. Notwithstanding over 4000 signatures opposing this, the decision is now made. So much for local democracy!! Apparently the owner has been trying to sell for 6 years - it's the first we knew of that, with no for sale board outside. A strange way of marketing a sale. Those who organised the campaign would like to thank you all for your support. We will now watch what happens to the building.
. Congratulations to The Rifle Volunteers, 28 Wyatt Street, Maidstone who are the 2016 Kent CAMRA pub of the year winner. The now go forward for judging for the CAMRA National Pub of the Year. Well worth a visit, with the added attraction of an original pair of Kentish privies (no longer in use). Pub details @http://www.goachers.com/pubs/the-rifle-volunteers and https://www.facebook.com/Rifle-Volunteers-148668401868603/?fref=ts
. On the subject of CAMRA Regional awards, congratulations also go to The Dartford Working Men's Club, Essex Road, Dartford, DA1 2AU who have won the regional club of the year, and who also go forward to national judging. Club details @ http://www.dartfordwm.club/
If you live in or are visiting our area, you will always be welcome at any of our social events, so please come along and join us. Details can be found here Branch Diary: next event - Thursday 3 August, Branch business meeting and here Branch Diary: future events
Photographs: The Chatham Toilets, Parkwood Bakery, The Countryman, Gillingham, empty Indian Takeaway in Rochester, and Kentish privies kindly supplied by Peter Scillitoe; The Monarch courtesy of Andy Johnson and The Lost Pubs Project; others from venues' websites and/or Facebook Groups or Whatpub.