Harold Larwood pub hit for six by demolition plans

BOOMING -- the Cricketers Arms pub in Nuncargate, which is thriving again under a new licensee.
BOOMING -- the Cricketers Arms pub in Nuncargate, which is thriving again under a new licensee.

A pub in Ashfield with historic links to famous cricketer Harold Larwood has been hit for six by controversial plans to demolish one of its outbuildings.

Now regulars and residents fear for the future of the pub, which has been revitalised since a new licensee took over the helm last December.

The Cricketers Arms in Nuncargate, Kirkby sits on a site that dates back to the early 17th century. And its adjoining sports field was where former England and Notts CCC fast bowler Larwood first played cricket as a youngster.

Larwood’s birth certificate and marriage certificate adorn the walls of the pub, along with memorabilia from his career, including the infamous ‘Bodyline’ tour of Australia in 1932-33.

However, the Cricketers is now on a sticky wicket after its owners, the Lancashire-based company Trust Inns, submitted a planning application to Ashfield District Council to knock down one of three old barns that are attached to the main building.

Licensee Colin Williams, 47, who hails from Blidworth, has already converted two of the barns into a boxing ring and a gym, and had plans to use the third as as a bed-and-breakfast business or as a workshop unit for a local company. He feels the owners should be investing in the pub.

“The barn used to be the changing rooms for the former football team here, but was left to fester after a fire about ten years ago,” said Colin.

“It is crying out to be used for something to benefit the community. But the brewery just won’t listen. Unfortunately, although all three barns date back to the 1800s, not enough of the original features remain to get them Listed.”

Trust Inns confirmed it wanted to demolish the barn, but did not wish to comment further. The firm feels the building is unsafe and has already removed an asbestos roof.

A campaign to block the demolition plans have alerted Ashfield’s Labour MP, Gloria De Piero, and has won the support of local Labour councillor, Don Davis, who has written to owners, Trust Inns.

“The pub is clearly a heritage asset to the local community,” said Coun Davis in his letter. “Colin Williams has shown me all the great work he has been doing there. He seems a very enthusiastic tenant, who is getting good engagement from the community.

“The pub hasn’t been as busy as it is now for a long time. I commend Mr Williams for his efforts and agree with him that the pub could become even busier, and profitable, if there was some investment from the owners. I understand there are also opportunities to attract funding from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.”