ISSUE: The Tabard Inn                                

Knockout Punch for Historic Bedford Park Pub? 

This article was written by a member of the informal group which has been started to save the Tabard

Secret plans to sell parts of the Tabard Inn have provoked an outcry from the locals. Bedford Park’s famous watering hole is suddenly the subject of a planning application that would make radical changes. Those who have seen the plans are horrified by their lack of detail. And suspicions that a development company - Punch Retail - is planing to asset-strip the listed building have become the main subject of pub conversation.

“They’re trying to sell off the crown jewels”, said one local drinker. Without warning, a small notice has been placed telling locals that plans to ‘refurbish’ the pub can be viewed in the local library. Representations have to be made within a fortnight. But already Tabard regulars are lining-up to demand answers to the hidden details.

The Save The Tabard Campaign has posted flyers in local shops inviting people to complain directly to the Hounslow Council Planning Committee. High amongst the list of ambiguities is a plan to convert upper rooms in the pub to make two separate flats. Like all genuine ‘locals’, these have traditionally been used as a home for bar staff. So any idea they might be sold-off is the cause of widespread disgust.

“This is a short-term idea to make quick money at the expense of Bedford Park’s heritage”, said local businessman Andrew Younger. “The day it happens the Tabard would irreversibly be finished as a local pub”.

Immediately threatened with closure is the popular Tabard Theatre. “They’ve offered me a non-negotiable 1 year lease”, said producer Hamish Gray “But they’re planning to take away the theatre office. And these plans to make flats means I’ll lose one of my fire escapes. Which means I’ll be in breach of regulations and will be shut down by the Council. It’s a creeping development plan. Looks friendly but cleverly designed to kill Tabard Theatre by stealth”.
"Looks friendly but cleverly designed to kill Tabard Theatre by stealth"

Gray has informed Punch Retail of these concerns. “Their response has been completely negative”, he said. “They’ve said they want the theatre to remain but I get the impression this isn’t the case. The fact they’re only offering a one year lease is an obvious concern. But already their plans have completely ruined my autumn programme of shows. They keep changing their mind when they want the work to begin - even though they haven’t yet got Council permission. So I’m left in complete limbo.”

Others have further fears. “Our local is a home for the people that run it and serve the drinks”, said a lady at the bar. This is where people live. The Tabard would become a completely different type of pub with a heartless commercial atmosphere if that ever changed.” “This is a local outrage”, said Stuart Kerr. "Our Tabard is already a hugely successful and busy local. Any outsider trying to muscle his way in needs horse-whipping. They’ll ruin the old place then move on.”

But it doesn’t end there. To many locals the plans are being interpreted as the death knell for thriving local organisations using the pub as a base: the theatre, the Tabard prize-winning quiz team and the popular Pilgrims Cricket Club. It appears that further plans to create a restaurant downstairs would mean an end to the quiz team. “Every Tuesday night for years we’ve had some thirty locals gathered in the back bar for quiz night”, says local organiser Hugh Fottrell. “Our local teams have won so many trophies it’s hard to keep count. Any plan to convert that space into a restaurant would kill the lot.”

“Does Bedford Park really need another restaurant”, said quiz regular Nick Mason. “We’ve got one glorious old pub in this area - and hundreds of good restaurants within walking distance. If you ask me the whole project will flop and the community will have lost one of its prize focal points”

Bill Rodwell, President of the Tabard Pilgrims cricket club, is equally aghast. “These people don’t understand communities. They don’t give a damn. I’ve got fifty people involved in this club and it all revolves around our unique local pub. Fiddle with it this much and we’re either finished or we’ll have to move.”

Still more Tabard regulars are aggrieved for other reasons. “They’re taking out the William Morris carpets and putting down a wooden floor,” said Dave Major. “It’s the Cool Britannia mentality, a five minute wonder.” And sports fan Mike West is scathing at the notion that the wide-screen TV looks likely to go. “Every time there’s a big event this room’s bursting with people watching. These idiots haven’t got a clue what they’re chucking away.

If this issue is of concern to you write to the following address suggesting approval be denied for the current plans. Pre-drafted letters for you to sign are in shops around the Tabard.

John Evans
Director of Environmental Services
London Borough of Hounslow
Civic Centre
Lampton Road
Hounslow TW3 4DN


Do you have a  view on the Tabard Inn? Use our pages to express yourself! E-mail to editor@
or contribute to our forum

Most of the articles on this site are contributed by local people.