THE historic Grapes pub in Abingdon town centre has been put up for sale by owners Greene King with an asking price of £325,000.
Greene King, which took over the town’s Morland brewery and closed it in 2000 with the loss of 100 jobs, said the decision to sell the Grade II listed property had been “difficult”.
The company is the target of a campaign to save the town’s historic pub signs, and is also under fire for selling two other pubs – the Ox and the Fitzharris Arms – which became Tesco Express stores.
Steve Lawrence, of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “It’s hard to tell if anyone will take on The Grapes. It’s been quite a nice pub, but recently it has just become an evening pub. The nightclub isn’t at Coxeters anymore and it took over as the late-night drinking place.”
He said Greene King had been moving towards bar and grill pubs such as the Hungry Horse chain. He added: “They have tended to sell off the ones that are more open for development.”
Councillor Lesley Legge, who last year fielded late-night noise complaints from residents living near The Grapes, said: “I don’t like the idea of any pub closing. Tesco have taken over so many pubs. They didn’t need planning permission to turn the Ox into a Tesco – that’s why no-one could stop it.”
She said the noise issue seemed to have been resolved amicably with Greene King. She added: “If they are selling The Grapes as a going concern, it’s early days to say what’s going to happen to it.
“It’s a shame that Greene King took all the old pub signs away, because it’s part of our history.”
In 2002 Greene King spent £200,000 refurnishing The Grapes and opened the pub all day.
In a statement, Greene King said: “As a leading pub operator and brewer, we are committed to running friendly, high-quality community pubs and operate a large number of popular pubs in Abingdon and Oxfordshire.
“To continue to invest in our pubs, from time to time we have to make the difficult decision to sell pubs.”