Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Tumble Down Dick - Farnborough

I have had a few letters and emails about the recent closure of this Farnborough Institution. The following are the facts:

The premises was subject to inspection under both food, and health and safety legislation, initiated as a result of a customer complaint, and a number of potential breaches were evidenced. Similarly the accommodation within the premises had been subject to action by the Council's Housing Service.

Having made the Area Manager with Punch Taverns aware of our concerns, he elected to visit the premises. Having seen the conditions for himself, the premises was subject to voluntary closure on 14th February with a view to a major refurbishment being undertaken. To date the business has remained closed.

Enquirers regarding the future of the business can be directed to the Press Office of Punch Taverns on 01283 523 551.


Lever said...

Cllr Clifford, there is no doubt that the Tumbledown Dick's closure was required for EH reasons but that still begs the question: what is your vision and the vision of Rushmoor Borough Council for the future of The Tumbledown Dick in the renovation and rejuvenation of Farnborough town centre?

It certainly needs a facelift and some money spent to become a viable business but what of the vital music venue that has been closed?

David Clifford said...

This highlights a real shortfall in Farnborough. A good local music/entertainment venue, and something I have already raised with the newly formed Farnborough Society. We have good sports facilities, library and we will soon have a cinema - but we have no theatre or live music venue. This is something all Farnborough Councillors will be looking to encourage - so any proposals that come forward will be welcome. Unfortunately because Central Government has consistently taken power away from local Councils gone are the days we could build our own!!

I have to underline the fact that the Council did not close down TTDD. This was a commercial decision by the company - it is all too easy for it to be blamed on the evil Council - this came about because of poor or inadequate management at TTDD - not a heavy handed council

Lever said...

Cllr Clifford, thank you for your response.

You're absolutely right, we really do need a live music venue in Farnborough and the TDD is still a very worthy proposition to fit the bill.

I believe that the TDD needs to retain its identity, as you say, as a local institution. It has hosted numerous acts over the years, most notably the much-acclaimed local band Hundred Reasons. Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, Bad Manners and a great many tribute acts have also entertained us over the years. These bands and their association with the venue really put Farnborough on the map and earn it some much-needed kudos.

Many of us understand that the TDD needs to be run as a viable business for its owners, as a base for the vibrant alternative music scene and to the benefit of Farnborough town centre, which we fear may become just another bland, faceless place if we're not careful. Keeping the core values of the TDD is absolutely vital to the Farnborough scene and could earn the owners a tidy profit too.

I envision the TDD refitted as a "Hard Rock Cafe" style pub which can have a themed restaurant with good food and a fun atmosphere AND the live music side of the pub be maintained too. That way it doesn't become yet another carbon-copy of all the other dull pubs we see in other towns.

The TDD simply needs for its owners to stop neglecting it as they have done and see that the TDD's USP is its iconic status as a cornerstone of a healthy alt music scene.

That, plus a few real ales to put the place on CAMRA's list of pub crawls, and I think everybody could win out of the future of this establishment.

What do you think, Cllr Clifford? Will this keep the punters happy, make money and be a worthy cause for the council to support? We're all stakeholders in this matter and it would be a shame to lose the spirit of the pub.

Good riddance to the soggy toilets, limited selection of "beer" and poor food. Let's have a Tumbledown Dick we can all be proud of.

Nick Lewis said...

Whilst I agree with the reasons for the Tumbledown being closed it should not be left to rack and ruin. The Tumbledown is more than just a pub, it is a "venue" where many bands were able to perform and earn some good money for a night's work. It quite often attracted bands to play there more than once and some of the best tribute acts from across the country would add the venue to their tour plans.

I for one would like to see it back in business as a music venue. It can't just become another boring family pub that very few families would use anyway, as it doesn't have a garden!!

Nick Lewis
- member of the Farnborough Society

p.s. I do a lot of music photography and know how popular these venues are for bands

Nick Lewis said...

Hard Rock Cafe style sounds very good Lever and I like your ideas. I guess its down to whoever owns it at the end of the day - or maybe someone should buy it, a local businessman perhaps who is not part of a chain? Someone with the balls to do such a thing in a world of "play it safe" business that is proliferated with carbon copy pubs, restaurants etc. Just take a look at what has happened to the "Swan" for example - bought by a successful local businessman and he has made it his own. I have yet to sample the food there but I hear its very good. The Swan offers Jazz nights. If the TD was to re-establish itself as a rock venue, then we'd have a little more variety in town.

Lever said...

Variety is what we need here Nick, different strokes for different folks. What I do fear is for Farnborough to be like Camberley, where, what Rushmoor Council might think are "normal" or ordinary punters are actually far less desirable than restoring the old Tumbledown crew.

Trying to push the Tumbledown more upmarket is ignoring history and a huge social mistake will be made if that happens, as is making it a trendy pub where lager, attitude and fights will ensue. The family-friendly version is also a spineless idea.

Come on Farnborough, come on Rushmoor, where's your spirit, where's your duty to the people who so loyally propped up that pub for decades? Don't just sit there DO SOMETHING!

Unknown said...

Hi, Is there any news on the plans for the Tumbledown Dick?

David Clifford said...

Hi Trissy

No news as yet despite two letters that have been sent to the owner without the courtesy of a reply to either. I have therefore asked that the Council take further action, which I cannot discuss just now but will when I am able.

Unknown said...

Excellent, thanks David for a swift reply and update. I have the feeling there is going to be renewed interest in The Tumbledown since it's just been in the newspaper again. Quite frankly the building (in it's current state) is a disgrace to Farnborough which was once such a lively town with much heretige. It's such a shame that the landmark has been allowed to get into such a state and then just left to fester. I personally would be very happy if it was turned into a rockcafe type of venue and think that Farnborough itself would benefit greatly from having such a venue.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Clifford,
It is now Summer 2010 and the TDD has been shut for well over two years. What a shame such an historical building has been left to ruin, especially when the Farnborough town centre seems to finally be coming together for the long suffering residents, after so many years. The last news I heard on the place was in October 2009. Is there no way that the Council can put more pressure on the owners to DO SOMETHING? Can you please tell us what the latest news on this pub and music venue is?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think it's about time for an update please. What a shame that all those people going to the airshow in the next few weeks are going to have to pass that eyesore. It's quite embarrassing really. I think the council should just buy it and turn it into an arts/community center (with a bar ofcourse), and turn the wreck into flag ship. Trissy

Anonymous said...

I was interested in buying this building. I spoke to Punch Taverns and apparently they have sold it on.
Surely the local council has some powers to do something as it's a historical building that's become run down and an eyesore with the window boardings? Farnborough is becoming more prosperous with companies like Fluor (1600 employees) moving in and that's why the hotels are springing up and the New JD weatherspoons that will open in Victoria Road. However we still need good pubs/bars and a refurbished Tumble Down Dick would be ideal.

David Clifford said...

Does anyone know who has bought The Tumble Down Dick? This is news to me, and I and the Council would love to speak to the new buyer.

Tom McManners BSc ACA said...

Its owned by a property company based in London, who have given a 20 year lease to Scottish and Newcastle Breweries to run it. I think thers about 11 years left on the lease. Details are shown on the land registry.

In my opinion the property co will not do anything as they are getting their rent. S and N will not do anything as it is cheaper for them to just keep it empty rather than run it as a greater loss.

The result is it will stay as it is until the lease runs out in 11 years time. I doubt theres anything the council will do about it.

I have not seen the lease but I would guess its a full repairing one. Which means S and N have to put the building back together at the end and make it look good. So in 11 years time we can all look forward to it being refurbished.

Except of course that will not happen, the surveyors on both sides will value the delapidations and rather than fix it up S and N will offer a lower cash payment say 80% of the £300k it would cost.

The property company will take the cash. They will do this because in 11 years time the building will be so run down, they cant find a new tenant and it will in any case be uninhabitable.

At that point they will turn to the council and apply for permission to build 30 flats on it, this will be granted and the property company will sell it on to a builder at £1m+ profit.

Its just how business works. So for 11 years you will have an eyesore and then a nice new shiny block of flats, with no parking as its near a train sation ;o)

Just my personal guess of what will happen..

Paul Mackenzie Ross said...

Well said, Tom. It's no wonder people have theories about the demise of the Tumble Down Dick being some sort of conspiracy when observations like this are aired.

The lease was sold to Punch Taverns/Spirit Group and none of my enquiries to Punch/Spirit were were ever answered, showing the sheer contempt they seem to have for concerned individuals. It took communicating through Gerald Howarth MP to get a simple answer from them that they were totally uninterested in the Tumble Down Dick.

The (eventual) flats *will* be shiny and new but I very much doubt they will be "nice" though. Most of Farnborough town centre is turning into a mess of either simply plain and boring or otherwise completely out-of-character ugly new builds.

It's alright for the decision makers though, I bet they live, work and shop elsewhere; Farnborough is just a place to be made money from, unfortunately.

David Clifford said...

Myself and my fellow ward councillors are well aware of the concern felt within the local community about the future of the Tumbledown Dick which is an important local landmark and Hampshire Treasure. We have been constantly pushing the Council to do all that it can to secure some progress and pressure is being put on both the freeholder and leaseholder to bring forward proposals for the site. We are also encouraging them to look for a short-term tenant if this would achieve bringing the premises back in to use for the benefit of local residents.
"The Council has in place a Supplementary Planning document aimed at encouraging further improvements to the town centre which would help to make the site more attractive and hopefully commercially viable and we are now moving this forward to the next stage with the intention of producing a masterplan. This document would aim to identify viable opportunities for the town centre and would be the subject of widespread public consultation prior to its formal adoption. Work on this will be starting imminently and I will provide regular updates through my blog

Ian Edwards said...

Hello Mr Clifford,
I have just found your blog whilst searching for the current situation re. the Tumbledown Dick in November 2011. I see from the previous posts that there is a good level of concern of the future of the venue. Could you advise me as to the current state of affairs please? Also if there were to be a short -term tenant (as you mention) what would the implications be to them, what sort of business could be housed in the Tumbledown (other than live music, pub and hotel) and how long would you envisage a short term tenancy to be?

Anonymous said...

With its history and current condition, someone should apply to English Heritage to get it listed.

That would stop the nightmare scenario in Tom McManners' post above.