Residents petition against closure of pub

Uncertainty about the future of Warwick Road pub Drummonds has left the town buzzing with Kenilworth history.

The large building, formerly the King's Arms and Castle Hotel, was recently bought by Pathfinder Pubs. The company last week stated its intention to turn it into retail and residential accommodation.

Townsfolk accept that Drummonds, which has been neglected, needs to change. But they do not want the historic hotel venue to lose its appeal. It has been a town centre landmark since the nineteenth century and many older residents remember its past.

Coun Doug Golby (Lib Dem, Park Hill) said: "There's an interesting history to the place. They almost pulled it down several years ago and there isn't much left of the original. It's a nice building and features on almost every picture of Kenilworth for centuries. It would be sad to see major changes."

The current building went up in 1986, an exact replica of the old Kings Arms famous for housing Sir Walter Scott when he wrote his novel Kenilworth. Drummonds also proclaims part of Kenilworth's railway history.

Arthur Street resident Robin Leach, who wrote two books about the town's stations, said: "The local sandstone facade on Station Road was Kenilworth's first railway station, in 1844.

"When a new one was built in 1884, the original was dismantled and rebuilt at the back of the Kings Arms."

When the Kings Arms was demolished in 1984, the site was flattened except the sandstone faade, which remains today.

The Kings Arms was once a popular and exclusive hotel but began its demise in the 1890s due to competition.

Mr Leach said: "It was Kenilworth's leading hotel for more than a century but The Abbey Hotel became the town's classiest establishment."

He is happy for Drummonds to close but wants its appearance to remain as it has always been: "It is vital. Even though it is a 1980s copy, the most prominent building in Warwick Road must be kept. Demolition should not be an option. The Kings Arms is a vital part of town character."

He does not want the venue affected by current proposals for change in Kenilworth town centre: "There are threats to many buildings. If the Kings closed as a pub, wouldn't it be a grand location for the library - should the unjustified demolition of Smalley Place go ahead?"

Dryden Close resident Cobb Colquehoun agrees Drummonds must retain its character. He said: "It could be very profitable. All it needs is to be converted into a five-room theme pub. It would not be expensive - just a few timber stud walls, new wallpaper and good will by all parties. That is sadly absent at present."

A spokeswoman for Pathfinder Pubs said its planning application has not yet been finalised. The building cannot be demolished: any changes must be to its interior.

* Regulars at Drummonds have collected more than 50 signatures on a petition against its closing. You can add your name to the list at the Weekly News office in Warwick Road.