People power ensures no last orders at pub

Regulars and Beech Hill residents rallied round when their local Sam's Bar was threatened with closure, and following a successful campaign the pub has been saved and will soon be re-launched as the Wellfield Hotel.
Landlord Chris Tolley (left) and Co-Manager Jean Cubas celebrate with staff and regulars.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
3-8-2016
Regulars and Beech Hill residents rallied round when their local Sam's Bar was threatened with closure, and following a successful campaign the pub has been saved and will soon be re-launched as the Wellfield Hotel. Landlord Chris Tolley (left) and Co-Manager Jean Cubas celebrate with staff and regulars. PIC BY ROB LOCK 3-8-2016

A Wigan community is celebrating after a huge campaign to prevent a much-loved local pub being turned into flats was successful.

Drinkers at Sam’s Bar in Beech Hill were so alarmed they might lose the venue at the heart of their community that they came together to protect it by applying for asset of community value (ACV) status.

Regulars signed petitions and went door to door gathering support after the venue abruptly shut earlier this year, with the campaign also attracting the backing of ward councillors.

All the hard work paid off as the pub was granted ACV status by Wigan Council just after it was re-opened with new landlord Chris Tolley behind the bar.

The residents enjoyed a second celebration last weekend as the pub put on an official re-launch event which also saw it revert back to its original name of The Wellfield Hotel.

Landlord Chris, 31, said: “It’s the only community pub in this area and nobody wanted to see it turned into flats.

“Everyone’s got stories about the place. My mum and dad had their wedding reception here and my dad came in every day until he died.”

Ward representative Coun Phyll Cullen, who backed the campaign, said: “I’ve used the pub a lot for meetings and functions and it’s the hub of Beech Hill. We’ve lost one pub to housing here and another to a supermarket.

“I’m so pleased it has ACV status and all the staff behind the bar are local people, creating jobs here.”

Approving the ACV status, Wigan Council noted the enormous variety of community events held there including Christmas parties for vulnerable adults and children, preparation of meals in the wintertime for disadvantaged people, yoga classes and functions such as christenings and milestone birthdays.

The pub has also had activities for children such as playbuses and skateboarding and bicycle ramps in its forecourt and car park during school holidays.

The pub celebrated its official re-launch on Saturday with many of its former landlords and landladies and their families attending. Built in 1956, the pub’s previous managers include former Wigan RL player Jack Bowen.