Last Wednesday morning (12 July) two clearance trucks were seen outside the Dyke Pub, one of them loaded with dark wood. Inside, the left hand side of the pub was being cleared – with an empty space where the original bar once stood. Witnesses were concerned that parts of the original bar (which is over a hundred years old) were on these trucks, and were shocked.

As the day progressed the owners gave assurances that the bar had in fact been disassembled, was being kept safe and would be reassembled in the proposed smaller pub.

The background to the story is that in a bid to protect it, the Save The Dyke Group nominated The Dyke as a listed building. The application is currently being considered by Heritage England and the building owner was notified of the nomination. Nominated buildings are notoriously vulnerable at this stage, as they are not yet protected from changes, but may be in the near future.

The proposed plan of the smaller pub shows the outline of the bar on the right hand side as per the existing plan, but with a small extension (a note says ‘bar extended’). There is no commentary in the planning documentation to suggest the original bar would be relocated in the small pub, in fact, no reference to the heritage significance of the building and its fixtures and fittings at all.

We are of course delighted that the 120 year old bar is not in landfill. We remain concerned by the fact the owner progressed with plans to remove the bar knowing the building had been nominated for listing. If listed, the principle of relocating the bar and the methodology for doing so would have had to be carefully considered by heritage experts. A bar in a pub is, after all, akin to an altar in a church. Taking a bar apart and reassembling it risks damaging it and it is far from clear whether planning permission will be forthcoming, so taking this step seems premature and risky. Stripping out on both sides may also have had implications from a heritage point of view. In the context of the number of objections to the current proposal (currently more than 350), it feels limiting to start reconfiguring the bars and dividing the space at this stage.

On Wednesday evening over a hundred people attended a short-notice demonstration outside the Dyke to express frustration at the removal of the bar, and the commencement of preparatory works – but most importantly, to protest about the owners’ proposals not reflecting most of the local community’s wishes for a family pub and garden.

It is worth remembering that legally the owner could have removed the bar altogether and disposed of it, along with other internal features. We are very glad this did not happen, pleased to see their commitment to preserving internal features, and relieved that this historic bar has a chance to continue to be part of community life. We hope that regardless of the planning outcome, as custodians of the building the owners will protect it.

Read more about the ‘Save our family pub’ demo.