Author Archives: Gordon


An open letter to McDonald’s regarding the Tumbledown Dick, Farnborough, Hampshire

22nd October 2013

Dear McDonald’s,

As planning permission for your outlet has been approved by Rushmoor Borough Council recently, it is likely that you are now in the process of formally becoming the owner of the freehold to this property. We hope that unlike the previous owner, you recognise that with ownership, comes responsibility.

The awful neglect shown to a building that has stood in the heart of Farnborough for many generations and the campaign to save it has encouraged many people to explore this history much more thoroughly than ever before. As a result, we now know a lot more about the development and use of the building through the years. However, the refusal by Bride Hall to allow any physical access to the building for verification of facts, accurate dating and survey of locations that could yield historical artefacts has epitomised the plight of history in modern Farnborough and indeed the UK.

McDonalds has made a lot of statements about being both a ‘friend of the community’ and a ‘good neighbour’, and therefore we ask that you to start living up to these promises by allowing survey work to be conducted prior to any demolition work that may happen and to share any finds uncovered in the process of demolition. This could allow the community you have descended upon to answer a few more questions about their past before you destroy it forever.

We would be grateful if you could make a public reply to this reasonable request.


Friends of the Tumbledown Dick

The Tumble Down Dick in the news

Since the closure of the pub there have been a number of reports about the Tumble Down Dick in the News both as a headline feature and getting a mention too.

Here we’ve collected links to as many of those stories as we can, dating back over the last five years, which is about the same time since our beloved pub last closed its doors. Note that the Tumbledown has made the Farnborough News headlines every year since it has shut and has regularly been mentioned as “historic” and “much loved”…

The Tumble Down Dick in the News Headlines

The Tumble Down Dick in the News Elsewhere

The Tumble Down Dick in other Media (Blogs)

Rushmoor Borough Council: Our position on The Tumbledown Dick public house.

The Tumbledown Dick Public House The Tumbledown Dick public house has been closed since 2008. The land, which is in private ownership, has been identified in the Farnborough Town Centre Prospectus as a site suitable for re-use or redevelopment. This could be through re-using existing buildings on the site or by new buildings.

We are keen to see the site brought back into use as it is an important part of the overall regeneration of Farnborough. However, it is up to the owners or those with other interests in the site to make proposals for how their land might be developed. This is usually through the submission of a planning application, although pre-application discussion often take place between an applicant and the council before an application is submitted.

Interest in the Tumbledown Dick

The site of the Tumbledown Dick is currently the subject of considerable interest because of proposals to use the site for a fast-food restaurant. No planning application has been received yet, but some local people are concerned about the proposals, as they would like to see the building preserved and refurbished.

Those who support the retention of the building have suggested that it is of significant age and should be considered for inclusion on English Heritage’s statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic interest, which would give it ‘listed’ status.

English Heritage’s assessment

At the request of local campaigners,  English Heritage assessed the Tumbledown Dick for listing, but concluded that from the evidence available, it lacked the special architectural and historical interest required to qualify for listing. For more details, see the pdf icon English Heritage assessment report [57kb], published on 11 January 2013.

Independent consultant’s report

So that we could get an impartial and expert view on the history, age and interest of the existing building, we commissioned Turley Associates, a consultancy with expertise in the field of historic buildings, to carry out research and an inspection of the building, to report their findings and to assess the building against the criteria used by English Heritage when considering if a building is worthy of listing. This report would be used as supporting information if the council receives a planning application alongside any other information we receive as part of the application process.

You can view the pdf icon consultant’s report [911kb].

We also made a copy of the report available to English Heritage.

Friends of the Tumbledown Dick heritage report

The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, who are campaigning for the retention of the building, have issued their own heritage report, which you can read on the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick website.

Planning Application

We have not received a planning application, although there have been some pre-application discussions with the site owners and McDonald’s. Some local people who support retention of the Tumbledown Dick have suggested that we are already supporting its demolition. This is not the case. If an application is received, there will be a period of public consultation.

Residents can find out more about this by viewing our How we decide planning applications page. It is only after the period of consultation that planning officers will make their recommendations to the Development Control Committee. The councillors on this committee will make the final decision on any planning application, taking account of national and local planning policies as well as comments received from the public.

Original story:

ITV Meridian: ‘Save our pub’ cry Tumbledown Dick campaigners

A group of pub-goers have started a campaign to stop their local being demolished.

The Tumbledown Dick pub in Farnborough dates as far back as the Tudor times. However, it could be demolished and turned into a fast food restaurant. Its supporters want to turn the public house back into a community pub and music venue. Kate Bunkall reports.

Watch the ITV Meridian Story Here:

Get Hampshire: Tumbledown owners deny closure responsibility

THE owners of Farnborough’s Tumbledown Dick pub has rejected claims it is responsible for the popular music venue staying shut.

Bride Hall, the property development company that bought the now-derelict pub’s freehold in 2004, said it was not in the business of running pubs.

The Tumbledown Dick, which punters described as ‘the centre of the Farnborough music scene’, closed in February 2008 after health inspectors found asbestos there. It has been empty ever since.

A spokesman for the Spirit Group, which leases the building and ran the pub, previously told the News & Mail it was not at fault because it had been trying to talk to Bride Hall about what to do.

“Despite numerous attempts to have discussions with the landlord regarding the future these discussions have not yet come to fruition,” the statement said.

But Roger Gorham, Bride Hall’s director, said the company was not responsible for the building’s closure.

The company was in the property development business and not running pubs, he said.

He added: “They (The Spirit Group) provide the pub and the entertainment and we provide the bricks and mortar.”

He said Bride Hall and the Spirit Group had discussed what could happen in May last year and the building’s owners said it could not do anything to help.

He said there were no negotiations at present and he was not aware of “any dialogue” in May this year, when the Spirit Group said there were.

After this was put to the Spirit Group, its spokesman issued another statement,saying: “We continue to review the future of the site and are currently looking at its suitability for one of our concepts.”

Bride Hall bought the pub’s freehold for £1.7m in 2004.

The developers have been involved in Farnborough before.

It lists the Firgrove Parade shops and flats as a ‘completed’ project in its online portfolio.

The Spirit Group, which runs 8,300 pubs across the country, has a 26-year lease on the building, from 1996 to 2022.

In its time, the pub hosted bands such as The Jam, Hundred Reasons and Reuben.

The sudden closure happened after a snap inspection by environmental health officers from Rushmoor Borough Council.

They found problems with a poor state of cleanliness and asbestos in a cellar door.

Steel shutters have been placed over the doors and windows of the venue since it closed.

The pub was expected to reopen within months of closure. Twenty months later, it is still closed.

Mr Gorham said: “I understand people are frustrated, as I would be if a pub local to me were closed for this long.”

Many former punters are angry for the Spirit Group for promising last year a £1million refurbishment.

The company said this would be within “six to nine months” of closure but it has still not happened.

An online petition to reopen the venue, started by former staff member Rose Whittaker, currently has 1,305 signatures.

The council is still monitoring the condition of the building to be sure it is safe.

The council’s powers are limited – it cannot force any work to be done unless the building becomes dangerously dilapidated or unsafe.

Evening Standard: McVictory is sweet for McChina

The is just a gentle reminder that the Tumble Down Dick is not the first business on Farnborough Road to face the might of MacDonalds. In this case, three years before BrideHall were involved in the Tumbly, McChina won their case to retain their name despite legal opposition from MacDonalds.


Evening Standard: McVictory is sweet for McChina
A restaurant entrepreneur who overcame a legal battle with McDonald’s to preserve the name of his McChina takeaways told today how determination carried him to victory.

Frank Yu Kwan Yuen is still celebrating after winning his “David and Goliath” struggle which ended in the High Court.

McDonald’s had tried to prevent the 55-year-old from registering the name McChina Wok Away, claiming that it would confuse customers.

But Mr Justice David Neuberger ruled that the American corporation could not monopolise the “Mc” prefix. Mr Yuen said today: ” Everyone said I was crazy to take on McDonald’s, but I went ahead and I won.

“McDonald’s is too big and they assumed they could just steamroller over a small operator like me. They were wrong.

“This row has been going on for years and it has cost me a great deal of money and stress. But I was determined to stand my ground and not be dismissed by a global bully.”

Champagne flowed at the two London McChinas in South Wimbledon and Merton following the judgement on this week. Staff at other branches in Surrey and Hampshire also raised a toast.

Mr Yuen, who started trading under the McChina name in 1991, had applied to register the name because he wanted to start a national chain.

But a trademarks officer blocked his application after hearing from McDonald’s lawyers.

The Hong Kong-born businessman, who has two grown-up children, appealed against the decision to the High Court.

He describes his takeaways, which serve up specialities such as crispy duck and spring rolls, as “nothing out of the ordinary”.

“I was never any threat to McDonald’s,” explained Mr Yuen. “Why they tried to crush me I will never know. They picked on the wrong person. I now hope to expand the chain and set up McChinas in railway stations and motorway service stations.

“There is little chance of me recovering my £50,000 legal costs but I didn’t do this for the money, I believed in the principle.

“The judge obviously just looked at the law and not at how big and influential McDonald’s is. To claim customers can’t tell the difference between a Chinese takeaway and the world’s best-known burger bar is ridiculous. McDonald’s is not an easy organisation to deal with.”

Mr Yuen, of Farnborough, Hants, claimed McChina stands for ‘Son of China’. He confessed to being a fan of a Big Mac and vowed: “I’ll carry on eating McDonald’s – I think they do delicious food. But whenever I buy a Big Mac now I’ll always have a smile on my face, knowing I took them on and came out on top.”

A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We are examining the judgment but we are not in a position to discuss individual cases.”

Original Story: