Despite a hard fought campaign by regulars, The Flora Sandes will close its doors for the last time this month and reopen as a 24-hour gym.
A petition to save the pub attracted over 3,000 signatures but there was never any ‘formal acknowledgement’ of the campaign by J D Wetherspoon.
No frills gym chain PureGym, have a ‘change of use’ application before planners to turn the pub into a gym. This will provide real competition for GLL who recently took over Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, as PureGym offers users fees of £12.99 a month with no contract.
In a last ditch attempt to save the pub Croydon Greater London Assembly representative Steve O’Connell and London’s first Night Czar Amy Lamé met with Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin.
Mr Martin stated the pub was closing for ‘commercial reasons’ and the irrevocable decision was taken last October.
Jack Arthey who led the campaign with wife Sally said: “At that meeting Tim Martin said he knew nothing about our campaign or the number of signatures and comments it had attracted.”
Sadly regulars have been told the pub will close on May 14, the day after the last Crystal Palace home match, but the council has been told by the agent that the last trading day will be May 21.
A spokesman for Wetherspoon wouldn’t give the date of the pub’s closure.
The pub is named after Flora Sandes who was the only British woman to serve as a combat soldier in the First World War and lived in Thornton Heath.Locals are fighting to ensure that her name and memory aren’t lost.The Chronicle has lobbied to get money for a bronze statue to commemorate Flora’s inspiring life and Wetherspoon have said they will give £1,000 towards a fund. A campaign will be launched shortly, so watch this space.
The council has also said that it will look at a plaque on the house she lived in, with her father in St Paul’s Road.
Linda Watson, Chair of THCAT has managed to secure all the old framed photos of Thornton Heath and history on the walls of the pub for the library and Age UK.
The Chronicle, can also reveal that the old Barclays building which shut in December is up for lease with a £42,500 annual rent. Pub chain Antic which pulled out of a deal to lease The Thomas Farley is known to be looking at other locations including the bank premises.