Landlord to leave The Friendship Inn at Nailsea UPDATED

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By Prue_Reid | Friday, October 12, 2012, 16:10

The Friendship Inn in Nailsea could close in the new year when its landlord leaves.

It will be the second local pub to fall victim to increasing competition and cheap bar prices offered by nearby Wetherspoons.

Wetherspoons opened at The Glassmaker in the town centre six months ago.

Landlord Russell Wragg said he understands that Punch Taverns could sell the freehold of the three-storey historic building at Stockway North and he jokingly speculated it could become an 'Indian restaurant'.

Nailsea town centre has more than 20 retail outlets selling food and drink and competition for trade is fierce.

Added to this the John Barras-owned pub The Royal Oak in the High Street was given a £160,000 makeover before it reopened in February this year with a revamped menu and bar deals.

Mr Wragg, aged 33, said he won't be leaving the pub until the new year. 

He said: "I have given notice at The Friendship Inn.

"September is known to be a quiet period in general but I have found it more of a struggle this year to compete with the attraction of a £1.99 pint of Thatchers Gold cider and £1.80 for a pint of ale at Wetherspoons.

"I have decided that it's best if I wind up operations and move on. 

"It is not just the competition, but also rising utility bills and the rising duty on alcohol.

"There is also a faltering number of people going out and drinking in the town and maybe this is because they don't have the money in the current economic climate.

"It may also be that people are choosing to go into Bristol more regularly for the entertainment.

"We are also struggling with the rise in VAT to 20 per cent and it's not something which can really be added to the price of a pint.

"If you can't do that, it starts to eat into your profit.

"Punch Taverns has been really good and have doing everything in its power to help me keep the pub going.

"But if I can't make it work, then it's time to go."

Mr Wragg took over the pub at Stockway North in April 2010 after a complete renovation.

The Friendship Inn first opened its doors to customers back in 1792 and it is the second oldest pub in Nailsea after The Moorend Spout, formerly The Butcher's Arms at Kingshill.

In April The Courtyard wine bar closed after 25 years and the Queen's Head recently stopped selling food.

And only this week after 15 years Bottelino's Italian restaurant was sold to the owners of family-run The Europa at St Stephens Street, Bristol.

Although not a listed building The Friendship is just a stone's throw from the old glassworks and was originally called The Glasshouse Inn with the cottage next door acting as a beer house.

Mr Wragg was a consultant and accountant to the pub trade before taking on his own establishment.

But even with live bands, karaoke, bingo and curry nights he could not make the popular pub pay and in May he reduced The Friendship opening hours.

Mr Wragg has told customers: "I'll be moving out of Nailsea. 

"If the pub becomes an Indian restaurant I don't want to live above a curry house."

Mr Wragg is going to work on a restaurant review website called aboutmymeal.com.

Nailsea Town Council chairman Rod Lees said: "I think it is terribly sad for Nailsea when one of the town's oldest pubs could be threatened with closure.

"In an ideal world I would like to see the Friendship retained as a pub.

"It is desperately important to retain the leisure industry in Nailsea."

Punch Taverns has 4,500 pubs across the UK.

A Punch Taverns spokesman said: "We are considering a number of options for The Friendship."

STOP PRESS

A 'for sale' board has gone up outside The Friendship Inn.

The Stock Way North pub freehold is on the market for £295,000.

However, 90 per cent of the asking price is subject to VAT.

As well as the pub and pool room a four-bed flat on two floors is included in the sale of the semi-detached property.

The sale is being handled by Michael Eaton, of Exeter-based estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle.

An application to extend or for a change-of-use would have to be submitted to North Somerset Council planners.

A council spokesman said the only pub in recent years to convert to other uses has been The Bell, at Congresbury, which is now a Tesco one stop shop.

However, a furore by local residents stopped the Bristol House Inn at Weston-super-Mare also becoming a Tesco store, he added.

Another public protest is underway down the road by The Portishead Tesco Action Group.

This group were launched to fight plans to open an Express Store in the former Royal Oak pub at West Hill.

They are meeting on Monday, December 10, at 7.30pm at Avon Way hall.

Click HERE for more details.

  • A former barman at the White Lion pub, Silver Street, has taken over as landlord. John Lindsay who once worked at The Glasshouse has bought the lease from Hayley Gould and Louise Thomas who moved out this week.
  • Friday, December 7, was the last night at The Friendship Inn for landlord Russell Wragg who posted on Facebook "FIRE SALE: From 7pm all drinks £2 - remaining draught, bottles, house doubles and more. Everything must go." He decided 'enough is enough' and is handing over to Simon and Tracey Healey to run the pub until the sale is finalised.
  • Latest word on the street is that The Sawyer's Arms is going to be sold and that the Queen's Head is going to become a shop! Surely not? What have you heard? Quote: "We have it on good authority that Queen's Head is being sold to brewery Whitbread PLC which owns Costa Coffee. Plan to open in August 2013."
  • Update via social media: "Apologies for mis-information but Whitbread/Costa are not interested in the Queens Head. It appears that someone from a business over the road from Queens Head got the wrong end of the stick and panicked after talking to the last landlady. Lesson learned. Check our source." Local People never reveals its sources but Nailsea is surely a bed of rumours! Love it.

      

Comments

       
  • Profile image for curbyi

    Delighted that the friendship has closed, no sympathy for business that does not want my money i.e. **** wheelchair access.
    Decrying multinationals is ridiculous are you some sort of Communist?
    I would love to see a range of Artisan shops but frankly in the real world we cannot afford such dreams and we will always go for the lowest common dominator.

    By curbyi at 13:00 on 19/02/13

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  • Profile image for Prue_Reid

    Reading the comments at the bottom of this story has restored my faith in that Nailsea is populated by some sensible, thoughtful people. Thank you very much for these observations.

    By Prue_Reid at 14:10 on 05/11/12

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  • Profile image for TheBeerBaron

    As with edd1cam I think the comment from GB is a touch melodramatic, even cynical!

    As the last poster mentions, the Golden Horse is an excellent Chinese restaurant(and their buffet on a Wednesday evening is great value for money). The food in the (newly refurbished) Royal Oak is a rival, certainly for price, to any of Nailsea's outlets? We are also looking forward to the new Italian, Europa, opening up later this month in the old Bottelino's (had you notice it was even closed GB?). Mind you, I have to say that Posh Spice has gone downhill over the past months; for an Indian meal we now prefer Britannia Spice on the Backwell crossroads… although it is sad to lose yet another pub, perhaps an Indian restaurant in The Friendship wouldn't be such a bad idea?

    I have to say 'up-west' we've never had it so good! The Moorend Spout continues to serve excellent fayre for reasonable prices (especially their mid-week deals) and the beers are always in top condition. David at the Ring O Bells has worked wonders recently and there is now a real buzz, especially for his excellent Fish Suppers on a Friday (booking advisable) - at a price cheaper than The Glass House, sorry, 'Maker'; a constantly changing guest beer selection is a reason to visit alone. Howards Restaurant (ex-Laurence's Bistro) is opening up again under new ownership after a few years of uncertainty over the uniquely located property and even the Rugby Club now regularly offers 2 real ales (the usual excellent Doom Bar was supplemented by a stunning Skinners Betty Stoggs last month).

    And, yes, I've even been to the Wetherspoons establishment; whereas you can't fault the beer selection and quality, and indeed price, we find the food inconsistent and the service appalling at peak times. There certainly isn't the crowds that we saw for the first month or so it was open.

    I, for one, enjoy living in Nailsea; at least we still have a fine selection of different establishments to choose from… including The Glass Maker!

    By TheBeerBaron at 12:44 on 03/11/12

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  • Profile image for edd1cam

    I have to disagree with the previous poster, although everyone's entitled to their own opinion. The advent of Wetherspoons has not suddenly put all other pubs in Nailsea at risk. Anyone with a memory can verify that they were all struggling many years before the old Glasshouse was refurbished. The main problem and the one that continues to depress local commerce is a long term demographic change that local councils have been reluctant to recognise. As an example, please refer to the recent proposal to build "quality" properties on the old school site in Silver Street rather than affordable housing to attract young families to the town or retain them if they've grown up here.
    The population of Nailsea is ageing and not being sufficiently renewed. Previous generations had fewer driving licenses, which meant that there was enough local trade to sustain shops and pubs within the town. Nowadays, virtually every adult under seventy can drive and most have bought into the supermarket "big shop", which often includes cheap alcohol deliberately purchased by ourselves and our neighbours. This is what undercuts local publicans not "chain" breweries as such.
    I would just add that:
    1 - a positive spin-off from the arrival of Wetherspoons was the fact that the Royal Oak revamped both its interior and also its menu to the benefit of its patrons.
    2 - it is unlikely that anyone else was going to revitalise the closed Glasshouse, which has reinvigorated that end of the precinct.
    3 - from personal observation, I would suggest that a lot of the clientele currently using the Glassmaker, during the day at least, did not appear to be using the Oak, Queens Head, Friendship or Sawyers Arms previously.
    4 - Clearly, the Friendship and the Sawyers Arms have additional problems to do with their locations being on a busy road with their immediate locals having changed dramatically from the days when they were at their height.
    5 - We must use them or we will lose them! Too many older people not prepared to go out at night preferring instead to stay home with a glass from the supermarket. Too few young people to fill them after work or at weekends. The town is losing out in every way.
    6 - Phrases like "parents don't know their kids are wrecking the place" are not helpful. For a start, there is very little evident vandalism in Nailsea. It just seems the expression of an outdated bias by an older person. It will simply alienate exactly the generations that we need to encourage to come to Nailsea and to breathe fresh life into its commercial heart.

    Finally, the plaintive request not to shut a certain Indian restaurant down seems to suggest that there are people somewhere that want that. It, like the Italian and Chinese restaurants (the latter of which seems to have escaped your attention), will remain open for one reason only. IF we use them! Please support all your local businesses and don't take any of them for granted.

    By edd1cam at 12:43 on 02/11/12

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  • Profile image for gadge1275

    Well what does everyone expect letting a Multi National into sleepy, dying, boarded up Nailsea!
    I just can not see why they were allowed to set their stall out. When it was going through it's refurb people were saying then that it would put other pubs at risk in the area. Its not rocket science. These guys have the power to put everyone out of business with their mass buying power.
    Nailsea is not dying it's dead, it's now a boring place to live as everything is closing. High street is boarded up at night, parents don't know their kids are wrecking the place!
    Who's next to go then?
    Oh and please don't shut Posh Spice down its the only alternative eatery left other than the Italian.
    GB

    By gadge1275 at 17:22 on 01/11/12

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