Newbury News Ltd. Print-Digital-Social

White Hart Inn to close months after reopening

Publican cited viability issues

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters

charlie.masters@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

07964 444701

White Hart Inn to close months after reopening

Hamstead Marshall’s White Hart Inn is to close – just eight months after reopening to the public.

Owner Stella Coulthurst said that the pub’s “poor commercial prospects” were the reason behind her decision.

Ms Coulthurst first closed the White Hart in 2015, saying it was no longer viable, and in 2016 she submitted plans to convert the pub into housing.

That caused a backlash from many local residents and, as a result, a ‘Save the White Hart Inn’ campaign was started by villagers to try to prevent its closure.

The campaign group won their fight when West Berkshire Council refused Ms Coulthurst planning permission.

Subsequent efforts were made to ensure the pub’s viability.

Hoping to attract visitors from further afield, Ms Coulthurt’s partner set up a micro-brewery on-site.

In recent months, the pub has hosted a variety of quizzes and other events.

However, Ms Coulthurst said that all of this had failed to boost the inn’s profitability.

Alongside the same viability issues which forced its closure in 2015, Ms Coulthurst highlights the problems she encountered when recruiting staff.

The working day was getting “impossibly long”, with management increasingly overstretched, she said.

After its reopening, Ms Coulthurst said she intended to keep the White Hart open throughout the evening.

However, this was criticised by a number of Hamstead Marshall residents, who complained that this arrangement was contrary to the pub’s original, family-friendly ethos.

Ms Coulthurst said that this scheme was therefore, abandoned, which further diminished the business’ viability.

In the end, the pub’s income was reportedly down a quarter, creating an unsustainable situation.

Ms Coulthurst stresses that the local customer base is highly unstable and said: “There’s no village in Hamstead Marshall, only an area – there’s not the reliable cluster of pub-goers.

“We fought and fought and fought to keep the pub open.

“We are very sad.”

Of the inn’s future, she says that she does not currently have any plans.

The pub, regarded as a focal point of the Hamstead Marshall community, is something of a local landmark, with a history stretching back centuries.

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Newbury Weekly News

Characters left: 1000

Article comments

  • Klaus

    15/10/2019 - 12:12

    maybe let a publican have a go at running it - or the locals.

    Reply

  • brunin the bear

    15/10/2019 - 08:08

    I think that she has really tried to make this work but it is so difficult to make a go of this type of rural business- there is huge competition and I wonder where all the people were who made such a fuss about it closing last time? Use it or lose it.

    Reply

    • anorak

      15/10/2019 - 12:12

      One of the reasons that she gives for closing down is that she can't get the staff. Well there's a surprise! Having family who have worked at the pub in the past, I know from their comments how rude and ignorant she is with them. Basically staff members are treated like absolute ****. I've heard of so many similar comments from others.

      Reply

    • crowthorney

      15/10/2019 - 10:10

      No. She's always been unwelcoming, and after her planning app was rejected last time, she needed to prove the business was unsustainable. I've been in twice this year, both times the service sucked, was very expensive, she was very cold with no welcoming personality. Next, you'l have the finances presented to prove that the business is unsustainable, to allow her to sell the property/land off to a developer.

      Reply

      • NoisyNortherner

        15/10/2019 - 14:02

        Sounds like a legitimate view. In the same way a building might "mysteriously" burn down when planning permission is refused.

        Reply