Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions

Questions about the campaign

Questions about the Friends’ Plans for The Tumbly

Planning Questions

Heritage Questions

General Questions

Q: Where is the Tumbledown Dick pub?[BACK TO TOP]
A: 227 Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7JT, next to the petrol station and parallel to Sainsbury’s.

Q: Who owns the Tumbledown Dick pub?[BACK TO TOP]
A: Bride Hall, an investment company in London. Spirit Group are the leaseholders.

Q: Is it true that McDonald’s own the pub?[BACK TO TOP]
A: They do not own the pub, but we have been told that a legally enforceable contract is in place subject to planning permission. They are also listed on the Land Registry document.

Q: When and why did the Tumbledown Dick close?[BACK TO TOP]
A: The pub closed on 12th February 2008. According to our Freedom of Information requests, Rushmoor Borough Council (RBC) inspected the property and advised the leaseholder of several health and safety issues. RBC have stated that at this point they expected the pub to remain open and in fact Spirit Group voluntarily closed the pub, apparently “with a view to a major refurbishment being undertaken”. Spirit Group did not undertake such a refurbishment (presumably due to interest from McDonald’s  and to date the Tumbledown Dick remains closed.

Q: Why is the Tumbledown still not open?[BACK TO TOP]
A: Spirit Group have chosen not to reopen and state that the viability of the pub is the main issue. As a free pub it will be and The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick believe that the deal with McDonald’s is the sole reason why the pub remains closed.

Q: How can I ask another question?[BACK TO TOP]
A: We want to answer every question, so please add a comment below and we will endeavour to answer your question and add any frequently asked questions to this page.


Questions about the Campaign

Q: Do you have a mission statement?[BACK TO TOP]
A: Yes, our mission statement can be downloaded from here in pdf format

Q: Who are the “Friends of the Tumbledown Dick”?[BACK TO TOP]
A: We are a community interest group with a committee of 9 members and a wider group of 21 signatories. We have the backing of over 3,000 Farnborough locals who have joined our Facebook group and signed our petition.

We formed in October 2012 and it was only as a result of our research that the deal with McDonald’s came to light. So to be clear, we did not form to fight McDonald’s  we formed to save the Tumbledown Dick!

Q: Why has no-one bothered to protest until now? [BACK TO TOP]
A: The popular opinion seems to be that everyone walked away and forgot until McDonald’s turned up. This is not the case. There was an immediate campaign back in 2008 and contact with Rushmoor councillors etc. to enquire about it. There have also been a number of serious attempts to obtain the property from the current leaseholders, including one very good proposal to turn it into a community theatre.

These proposals, and the original campaign to save the pub failed for two reasons. Firstly, the pub company were exceptionally hard to contact and when contact was made, they had nothing to say and no intention of discussing a sale of the lease. The second reason is that RBC did practically nothing to force the issue. True, a few letters were sent to the leaseholder and the landowner, but these were easily deflected by the leaseholder not replying and the landowner declaring the maintenance being the responsibility of the landowner.

What should normally happen is that the council eventually enacts powers available to it to stop dereliction and prevent the property becoming an eyesore – it even has the power to perform a compulsory purchase. Unfortunately none of this actually happened, despite the council getting as far as threatening it resulting in inevitable interest from other forms of development.

Q: How Can I Help The Campaign? [BACK TO TOP]
A: If you’d like to help, we’d love to hear from you. After all this campaign is only as strong as the people involved in our fight! You can join the Facebook campaign, follow us on twittersign the petition,  or If you’d like to volunteer, please leave a comment below along with any skills you could bring to the group.. Read more…

Q: How Can I Donate To The Campaign? [BACK TO TOP]
A: We are looking for donations of all types to sell via a charity auction on eBay  These could be anything from a signed piece of rock memorabilia to a service provided by your business (hair cuts, baking, you suggest it!). Our loyal ‘facebookers’ will know of your generosity and support of our popular campaign. Should our plans not be successful, any funds we have at the end will be given to other community groups within Rushmoor.

If you would like to donate and be part of this popular local campaign, please email: [email protected].

Q: Is this just an Anti McDonald’s Campaign?[BACK TO TOP]
A: No, it’s far more important than that. The Tumbly has real heritage value and will be an asset to the community. We don’t think that Farnborough needs another McDonald’s  with another huge drive-through being only 1 mile away at Farnborough Gate, however this campaign is a positive movement to KEEP the Tumbledown Dick and make it so much more than it has ever been in the past.


Questions about the Friends’ Plans for The Tumbly

Q: What is a “Community Pub”?[BACK TO TOP]
A: This simply means that a pub is run with the local population as it’s primary reason for being. So rather than simply being a “bar” it will focus on activities of community benefit and we aim for it to grow beyond it’s recent history and become a welcoming venue for all ages.

Q: Why do we need a venue in Farnborough?
A: Let’s look at the demographics:

  • Total Population for Aldershot – 33,840 (across 5 wards)
  • Total Population for Farnborough 57,147 (across 9 wards)

Farnborough has more people registered to vote than the entire population for Aldershot! On that basis alone, we argue that Farnborough needs a lot more evening entertainment facilities than Aldershot yet we still have nothing. As per our research for our fundraising gigs, it is evident that Farnborough has over 50 bands operating within the area with no local venue.

The West End Centre is also regularly booked out showing clear demand for their services and with the Agincourt in Camberley only hosting events on Fridays and Saturdays due to it’s masonic commitments, it is clear that the demand is there. You only have to go down the to The Swan Inn’s open mic nights to see how many locals live music will bring in on a week night!

So in summary, there is room for two big music venues in our borough, but only one McDonald’s in Farnborough!

Q: What will it include?[BACK TO TOP]
A: As well as being a traditional pub, it will host a coffee shop as well as a bar and events venue and will play host to activities such as under-18’s gigs, coffee mornings for the elderly and disabled. If we can re-open and run the Tumbly, we really want to demonstrate that it really is an asset of community value, as Rushmoor Borough Council have recently stated.

Q: How inclusive will the Tumbly become?[BACK TO TOP]
A: Our aim for the Tumbly is for it to appeal to as wider part of the community as possible; the young, the old, different ethnic groups etc. We want it to be a welcoming place for everyone and grow beyond the Tumbly of the recent past. Simples.

Q: I’ve heard the pub is “not a viable business” is that true? [BACK TO TOP]
A: The Tumbledown Dick was a “tied pub” and as such was leased out for a figure four times its rateable value. So under that model we accept that it WAS unviable. Our business plan models the Tumbledown Dick as a free community pub and demonstrates its viability.

Q: I’ve heard that it never made any money. Is that true? [BACK TO TOP]
A: Anybody that went there on a Friday/Saturday night will testify to how packed the place was, right up to the closure. I’ve seen mention in documents of how other pub companies were envious of the profits the Tumbledown was bringing in. It’s just a shame that Spirit Group didn’t plough some of those profits back into the pub really…

Q: When will the business plan be published?[BACK TO TOP]
A: We hope you will understand that, as The Tumbledown Dick will be a profit making commercial enterprise (albeit with social aims), the business plan is commercially sensitive. The business plan is currently in draft form and will be completed in due course.

Q: I heard that there is an asbestos problem – is that true? [BACK TO TOP]
A: RBC’s environmental health dept were quite clear with us that it was NOT them who had the building closed. The inspector noted ONE damaged asbestos board in one of the cellars. In related documentation, it emerges that the pub company had an asbestos report produced the previous year and that whilst there is a fair amount of asbestos board in the property, the relatively small amount of remedial work carried out suggests that it was not a dire emergency – any decent survey company would have raised the alarm if things were dangerous.

It isn’t unusual to find asbestos in buildings of this age because it was a good insulator/fireproofing solution. In the absence of any access to the property, it is hard to know exactly what the situation is now – but blindly saying it is dangerous is contrary to the available facts.

Q: Will it be too expensive to refurbish? [BACK TO TOP]
A: It’s true that restoring the place will be difficult and costly; The non-
existent maintenance by the leaseholders, the failure to keep it secure from vandals and squatters after the closure and the failure of RBC to take decisive action for several years has taken a heavy toll, and yes, in the end complications could mean the effort has to give up.

However, the campaign isn’t stepping into this blindly. There are various sources of funds available, including grants, lottery finding and offering shares to raise capital for the project, all of which will form part of a long term vision for a sustainable, profitable and viable pub.


Planning Questions

Q: Has planning permission been applied for? [BACK TO TOP]
A: McDonald’s have been in consultation with Cllr David Clifford from Rushmoor Borough Council and Sir Gerald Howarth MP and have been in pre-application negotiations with the council. Despite numerous PR announcements, McDonald’s failed to submit planning application on a number of dates and eventually put planning in on the 22nd July 2013. 

Q: What will the McDonald’s building look like? [BACK TO TOP]
A: The original plans were to completely demolish the Tumbly but these were abandoned probably due to the amount of resistance put up by local people and presented by the Friends of the Tumbledown. This latest application shows the Tumbly being almost totally demolished except the front wall. They plan to have just 28 car parking spaces and 2 disabled parking spaces in a very tight plot as well as a drive-through looping around the back of the property. Rushmoor themselves state that there need to be at least 63 spaces for this size of fast food outlet but McDonald’s have decided to push ahead with less than 50% of the spaces. It is expected to cause traffic and litter problems despite the polished architectural drawings.

Q: Why is the Tumbly being an “Asset of Community Value” important? [BACK TO TOP]
A: Following our application, the Tumbly was the first building in Rushmoor Borough to be listed as an Asset of Community Value. This means that should the deal with McDonald’s fall through we will be given a six month period to bid on the property during which no sale can take place. Read more…

Heritage Questions

Q: Who was “Tumbledown Dick”?[BACK TO TOP]
A: The first rumour is that “Tumbledown Dick” was Dick Thrupple, a local man who fell off his stool. Then there’s the rumour about Dick Turpin. Third, it has been rumoured to be another highwayman “Galloping” Dick Ferguson. In reality (and supported by historical evidence) it is almost definitely the third son of Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell, who lasted as “Lord High Protector” for just seven months and then lost his post. Hence being jokingly referred to as “Tumbledown Dick”.

Q: How old is the pub?[BACK TO TOP]
A: The main section of the building dates to around 1825, with the rear of the building estimated to be around 1650. Despite us being criticised for saying there are parts of the pub that may be older than the red brick front, we would like to point you to Hampshire County Council’s own Hampshire Treasures list.

By their own definition, a Hampshire Treasure is (our emphasis):

Those natural or man made features of the county which are of public interest by reason of their aesthetic, archaeological, historic, scenic, scientific, sociological or traditional interest, and whose deterioration or destruction would represent a serious loss to our heritage.

The entry in the Hampshire Treasures list is in Vol 3, page 220 and states:

The Tumbledown Dick, Farnborough Road. 2 storeys. Red brick. Slate roof. Part tile hung. Believed to be C.18 with C.1 6 part to

So, Hampshire County Council themselves believe there is a 16th centruy part to the pub and that it’s deterioration or destruction would represent a serious loss to our heritage. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we want to protect the pub and save it from further deterioration or destruction.

It would be travesty for either section of this historic building to be demolished, but the rear of the building is the most historically significant and the most important to protect.

Q: Is the building listed?[BACK TO TOP]
A: English Heritage listing is notoriously difficult to get for a pub because pubs are not usually swimming in money for maintenance/in keeping upgrades etc and they do of course have a pretty hard life. Like most there are plenty of bodged on flat roof sections and iffy repairs to be seen on the Tumbledown now. Until the campaign started there was apparently no attempt to gain this (as a pub would generally not want to).

However, despite this the pub was, and is on the Hampshire list of Treasures, which denotes buildings of age/interest to the county. Until recently the Farnborough Society were also keen to see the building saved from ruin, but when the council last year started work on a local listing process, which serves to give more protection to local buildings of note. To the surprise of the Farnborough Society, the Tumbledown Dick was missing from the draft, despite having several of the qualifying attributes (age and Hampshire treasure mention).

The Tumbledown never made it onto the final list, and the Farnborough Society appears to have changed it’s tune considerably from the initial objections. It is also worth noting that the forum that decided the buildings of note includes a high proportion of development companies.

The campaign have an appeal in to English Heritage and are asking RBC to reconsider the local listing. The reason why is that all previous surveys ,including one ordered by RBC have examined in a purely bricks and mortar fashion. What the campaign has done is actually look at the history and evidence of it in what we see today. There is a report on it if any of you are interested.