In The Press

Tumbledown Features in CAMRA’s News & Ale

I was in the Prince of Wales the other night, chatting with random locals, as you do, when I was handed a copy of the local Surrey/Hants Branch of CAMRA’s News & Ale magazine. The feature that I was supposed to read was about the rise of microbreweries in Ireland but, as I thumbed through the rest of the mag, I spied this little number:

CAMRA's News and Ale - Fight to Save the Tumbledown

Here’s the full transcript:

The Fight to Save the Tumbledown Dick

By Fran Beauchamp

Driving past the landmark heritage building along the main Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hants, back in October 2012, the Tumbledown Dick Pub was a very sorry sight indeed. A once thriving public house, hotel and live music venue it had been closed by the brewery since 2008 and had been left to fall into semi-dereliction by the leaseholders, Spirit Pub Company, and no action to intervene had been taken by the freeholders, Bride Hall, a wealthy firm of city developers.

This building means a lot to the people of Farnborough, afterall it has been standing since before Farnborough was even built and served as a Coaching Inn and Posting House, from the days of highwaymen and long and dangerous journeys from London to the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth by coach and horses. The Tumbledown Dick was a stopping place of safety for passing travellers and eventually a town sprung up around it. Over the next few hundred years, the building was used by the Army for passing out celebrations, by the gentry as a nice hotel, by the Masons who formed masonic lodges within it and of course by local people. This changed again in the 20th Century when local people used the venue hall on the side of the pub to host live music nights and The Jam played here 13 times in 1975 just before they were signed. Not only The Jam, but also the Buzzcocks, the Vapors and latterly, bands such as A Hundred Reasons and Reuben.

It also hosted a very popular nightclub on Friday nights called Quarantine which was extremely popular and to this day local people talk about how much they miss the pub and venue for the live music and entertainment it once offered the town and has not been replaced. Plus of course the pub had history, it was unique and we were proud to have it in our town on the main road in the town centre. After it was closed, a lot of people lobbied local council to find out what the plans were for it. Spirit Group said they were going to spend £1million on a refurb, well that didn’t materialise and the pub stayed empty and was eventually boarded up and a sad sight it is on a main road location.

So that day in October, having seen new evidence that all the trees had been cut down, some of which were over 300 years old and new perimeter security fencing had been erected, I felt the site looked as if it was being prepared for demolition. I drove home immediately and started a Facebook page ‘Save the Tumbledown Dick Pub & Live Music Venue’. Within a matter of weeks the page had been shared literally hundreds of times by local people and we had thousands of people involved who supported our campaign to Save the Tumbledown. We put people in teams to carry out Heritage Research, put together Business Plans and formed a committee and called ourselves ‘Friends of the Tumbledown Dick’ and set ourselves up as a Community Interest Company with aims to acquire the building and renovate it as a community run pub and hoped to use the new legislation under the Localism Act to help us achieve this. It was at this point we discovered the pub had been sold to McDonald’s by Bride Hall. This was devastating news and after some research and Freedom of Information Requests with the local council, Rushmoor, we discovered that plans were afoot to completely demolish this heritage building and replace it with a large 2 storey box for a huge drive-thru. We were appalled, not least because Farnborough already has a major McDonald’s drive-thru just over a mile up the road and the town is already suffering from obesity problems and has a considerable number of fast food outlets already, including a number directly opposite the Tumbledown, family run businesses that would undoubtedly be forced out of business if this scheme goes ahead.

We reacted immediately and applied for the pub to become an Asset of Community Value (ACV) with Rushmoor Borough Council which has been granted, however this will not necessarily save the building. The sale with McDonald’s is still in place and if their planning permission is granted by the local planning department we will lose this building forever. We lobbied parliament and our MP Sir Gerald Howarth met with McDonald’s, they agreed to keep the façade of the building but the rest would be demolished and rebuilt to suit their scheme for a 2 storey drive-thru but more in keeping with the existing building.

Sir Gerald is content with this as a result, we however are not, we want to keep our pub and we don’t need or want a 2nd drive-thru in a town centre location. We have already had a couple of large public demonstrations outside the pub and now a rally is being organised on Sat 9 March from The Tumbledown up to the McDonald’s in Farnborough Gate. The Tumbledown is in the local paper nearly every week thanks to our campaigning and we have recently been the subject of a BBC documentary for ‘Inside Out’ due to the amazing community involvement. We are also lobbying council to add the building to their Local List of Buildings of Importance as we are at a loss to understand how such an old and important building could have been excluded.

So at the time of writing, we are now awaiting the final plans to be submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council and we are hoping to lobby council directly to listen to our business plan, if they reject the planning, we will get the opportunity to fundraise and bid on the building as a community group, for the benefit of the people of Farnborough. I don’t think many people can say that another huge drive-thru restaurant will benefit anyone other than the profit margins of an international fast food chain and a city developer, the people of Farnborough will be the losers. As daunting an opponent as McDonald’s undoubtedly are, we will not stand by and watch them destroy this heritage and unique pub and music venue without a fight to the last. Nearly 4,000 Rushmoor residents agree!

Cool huh? You can pick up CAMRA Surrey/Hants Borders’ “News & Ale” magazine from any decent real ale pub in the area or download the PDF version here. Thanks again to Paul Cowper of CAMRA SHB.

Griff Rhys Jones supports Saving the Tumbly

Griff Rhys Jones Supports The Tumbledown

If you’ve ever seen the BBC TV series “Restoration” you’ll be familiar with the format; the show looks at buildings in serious need of repair & funding and votes are cast by viewers over which project to save.

The show’s presenter is comedian, actor, writer and champion of architecture, Griff Rhys Jones, who has a sincere passion for the old buildings on his programme. Griff is also the President of Civic Voice, the national charity that promotes civic pride. When Griff appeared on BBC’s Question Time from the Princes Hall, Aldershot, a few weeks ago he spoke with some loyal supporters of the Tumbledown and exchanged details. Today he asked our chairperson, Fran, to issue this statement on his behalf:

It is a great shame and a pity that such a distinguished, friendly old building on such a prominent site should be allowed to fall into disrepair, simply in order to knock it down and build a drive-through burger bar. Why? The Tumbledown Dick is part of the history of Farnborough. It is the fabric of the story of Farnborough. It has been a lively and exciting place until quite recently. This is a crying shame. It can never be replaced. So come on Farnborough! Get together, speak out and stop the further degradation of your town centre. This is your drawing room. It is not a drive through roundabout. It is the pride and heartbeat of your locality and its time to support the action group here and tell the council and planners that you want to keep the memories alive. Protest. Sign petitions. Make your voices heard and help restore this grand old lady. – Griff Rhys Jones”

Griff joins actor Neil Stuke and MP Greg Mulholland in our list of high profile endorsements and thinks our pub is lovely, so we will certainly be buying him a round or two when we can regain, restore and reopen our historic pub.

So come on Farnborough, get behind us and protect your heritage, save the Tumbledown!

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)

The Tumbly in the News Again

The Tumble Down Dick, FarnboroughEver since the Tumble Down Dick closed in February 2008 there have been numerous mentions of the Tumbly in the news and media.

Today, Get Hampshire, the online version of the local Farnborough News (And all local News Group local papers for Aldershot, Camberley and Fleet), published the story “Listed building blow for Tumbledown Dick battle” regarding the English Heritage decision not to list the Tumble Down Dick. Continue reading

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: