Croydon pub of the year to become Sainsbury's
A PUB last week crowned "Croydon's best" is to be closed - and turned into a Sainsbury's
The Ship of Fools, in London Road, West Croydon, received the best pub accolade in Croydon Council's Best Bar None awards.
But within days Sainsbury's was confirming it had signed a deal with pub owners J D Wetherspoon to convert the premises into one of the supermarket's Local stores.
Staff and regulars were unaware of the decision when it was revealed to them by the Advertiser on Friday, and this week a spokesman for Wetherspoon was officially making no comment on any deal.
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But on Wednesday Sainsbury's issued a statement which read: "Sainsbury's has confirmed that, subject to the necessary approvals, it is planning to open a Sainsbury's Local on the site of the Ship of Fools pub at 9-11 London Road, Croydon.
"Sainsbury's Locals are small convenience shops designed to serve people living and working in the area, who can walk to the store to top up their weekly shop.
"This new Local would serve the footfall area around West Croydon rail station and Tramlink, as well and residential areas to the north and behind the shop."
Ironically, a poster in the pub proclaims that the premises were on the site of the first Sainsbury's store opened outside London, in 1886.
A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "Sainsbury's used to trade a supermarket in this location up until 1969, and so we are really returning to our roots".
A timetable for the change has not been revealed, although there are suggestions it could be some nine months before Sainsbury's moves in.
But on Friday, customers were reporting notices that Sainsbury's was applying for a drinks licence had already appeared on the pub windows.
The idea of losing their pub to a mini-supermarket has not gone down well with regulars.
Peter Reeve, of Oakfield Road, West Croydon, said: "I think the idea is disgusting.
"This my local, it has always been a friendly pub which attracts a lot of regulars.
"It seems like there are more supermarkets than pubs in Croydon these days."
Bill Mansfield, of St James's Road, West Croydon, said: "I have been coming here since it opened around 13 years ago and I chose it because it was my local.
"I can't see why they want to close the pub, there are so many people who come in here."
Business leaders have also expressed concern about the loss of the pub.
Ganapathy Kasinathan, chairman of London Road Business Association (LRBA), believes the arrival of the supermarket giant spells trouble for local firms.
He said: "This is very bad news for us, particularly for those shops selling fruit and vegetables, which on London Road is every other business.
"Since the riots they have been trying to rebuild, but Sainsbury's threatens the work they have done.
"When a big fish comes along it eats all the smaller fish."