Is Ash­ford be­ing over­whelmed Fears for fu­ture of his­toric pub

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Special Report - By Ai­dan Bar­low

Proud Ash­for­dians fear an­other piece of the town’s his­tory could be flat­tened af­ter a de­vel­oper re­vealed plans to de­mol­ish an old pub.

The Bri­tish Vol­un­teer in New Street was closed by Shep­herd Neame last sum­mer and the win­dows were boarded up soon af­ter.

In Septem­ber last year Gala­had De­vel­op­ments Ltd made an ap­pli­ca­tion to con­vert it into six new flats along with an ad­di­tional three new two-bed­room homes on land be­hind it.

But the plans for flats and homes has sparked op­po­si­tion from res­i­dents, and is still be­ing con­sid­ered by coun­cil plan­ners.

Last week, Gala­had De­vel­op­ments sub­mit­ted a de­mo­li­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tion to Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, which would see an ex­clu­sion zone set up while the pub is knocked down. Not even the foun­da­tions would be spared.

Ash­ford Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Ian Sharp is among those ob­ject­ing to the plan. He said the pub has strong links to the town’s for­mer reg­i­men­tal bar­racks at Bar­row Hill.

He said: “It’s been in the town

Bri­tish Vol­un­teer, New Street and in­set; Ian Sharp since be­fore the Crimean War. It’s orig­i­nal name was the Brick­lay­ers Arms but it changed af­ter the Crimean War to the Bri­tish Vol­un­teer.

“It was used as an army re­cruit­ment of­fice right up un­til the First World War, so it’s an­other fo­cal point of his­tory be­ing lost in the town.

“My great grand­fa­ther Thomas Sharp was a pub­li­can there from the 1840s un­til the 1880s so I have a con­nec­tion to it and an in­ter­est in sav­ing it for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“For Ash­for­dians who have still got pride in the town it means a lot to see those build­ings stay there. There is lit­tle left of the old Ash­ford. It doesn’t have to re­main as a pub, it’s just im­por­tant that the build­ing is left stand­ing as a his­tor­i­cal re­minder.

“Since the 1960s there have been a lot of changes, we’ve had the ring road, Char­ter House and other de­vel­op­ments. It’s a pity that the town cen­tre con­ser­va­tion didn’t ex­tend up as far as the Bri­tish Vol­un­teer and for­mer Prince of Or­ange at the top of New Street.”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­

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