Sadness as village pub’s new owners have no plans to revive bar - but proposals for jobs boost and business welcomed

The Grey Horse welcomed its last customers as a pub earlier this year.
The Grey Horse welcomed its last customers as a pub earlier this year.

A community is continuing to mourn the loss of one of its last pubs after its new owner confirmed they hope to turn it into a shop.

The Grey Horse in Mill Lane, Whitburn, closed in February after its bosses Greene King decided to sell the 1840 building.

Coun Tracey Dixon

Coun Tracey Dixon

Its new owner has confirmed it hope to transform the site, which has a car park at the rear, into a convenience store, with a change of use application to be submitted to South Tyneside Council.

Related: New owners of Whitburn’s Grey Horse confirm plans to turn pub into a shop

The redevelopment would also include two flats created upstairs, alongside the former manager’s accommodation above.

If planning permission is granted, it is expected work could commence, with a shop open by the end of the year.

A total of 20 full and part-time jobs would be created.

It’s disappointing and a shame the new owners couldn’t keep it as a public house.

Coun Tracey Dixon

Councillor Tracey Dixon, who represents the Whitburn and Marsden ward on the council, said she welcomed the additional jobs to the village, but said it was sad the bar had been lost.

“It’s disappointing and a shame the new owners couldn’t keep it as a public house, but all we hope for is that they will agree and remember to work with the community in what they are doing.

“I think a shop could possibly be detrimental, but I’m sure the village will support all its businesses.

“Of course the jobs will be good and we hope it will be local people that are offered employment.”

A photo from the archives of the Grey Horse during its public house days, dated 1981.

A photo from the archives of the Grey Horse during its public house days, dated 1981.

Read more: Calls for Greene King to rethink pub closure after 180-year-old boozer shut down

Grey Horse Limited, which has bought the property, has said it looked into keeping it open as a pub, speaking to national and regional firms, but it was not possible to find anyone to invest and run it as a sustainable business.

It has said the shop will sell a basic range of groceries, ready meals, sandwiches and snacks, beers, wines and spirits and a range of fresh fruit and vegetables and could be open by the end of the year if the change of use is approved.

The external appearance would be unchanged except for signage sympathetic to its prominent conservation area location.

Read more: Village sad to see pub go - but hope building could be an opportunity for new business

The announcement has been given a mixed reception by readers.

Robin Hunter said: “Fantastic idea.

“The village could really do with a Co-Op/Sainsburys/Tesco and will mean less travelling to Morrison’s etc for day-to-day shopping.”

Ian Richardson said: “Sounds like a good use of the building, the days of the pubs are finished now I think.”

Others suggested the two businesses could be combined, with half used as a shop and the remainder used as a bar.

Kenneth Dowson said the plans are “Destroying this village” while some pointed out the pub would have stayed open if it had enough custom, lamenting what they believe was a lack if investment by its previous owners.

Julie Welsh said: “It’s an old fashioned pub and should stay that way,” while Kim Thompson added: “What a shame all these lovely old pubs are being turned into mini supermarkets.”