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Home > Berkshire > Woolhampton > Falmouth Arms

Falmouth Arms

Picture source: Movement80

The Falmouth Arms was situated on Bath Road. A former coaching inn.
I was the last publican at the Falmouth, closing for business on the 13th of July 2014. The original close date of 31 August was brought forward to enable me to take on another Marstons franchise in Derby.
The local paper had a couple of items about the pub's impending closure, from the point of view of the purchaser, regarding trade and the performance of the pub. I failed to recognise the situation as described.
When I took the place on it was in dreadful decorative order and had a terrible reputation, with corresponding low levels of trade. Within a year I was trading to the targets set by Marstons and the pub, under my stewardship, became a thriving local pub, with a large and loyal clientele. However, inevitably given the size of the village trade peaked and was never going to substantially grow. The "Newbury Times" gave prominence to REL's (the developer) view that everyone used The Angel, next door. This is not quite the case.
However, in my opinion the Falmouth presented a number of problems for Marstons. Firstly when they bought from an intermediary with another 20 or so, ex-Eldridge Pope pubs it was in a poor state (along with the other EL buildings, which I believe they have rid themselves of). Secondly, geographically, it was in the middle of nowhere as far as their franchises went. Thirdly, having peaked with a good but limited food offer, a substantial investment would be needed to get to "destination food" and therefore increase trade.
But the thing that really killed it, in my opinion was that the building was falling down! The elaborate roof, installed in the the 1930s, was held up by massive steel trusses which were causing "bowing" issues with the walls, exacerbated by the heavy traffic. Also we had problems with the drains, input water, electrics and the heating system. The village had no gas so the oil-fired system was very expensive to run, and warm such a large building.
In all, the pub was too big, and by my estimate at least 250,000 pounds would have propped the place up, with no customer facing improvements, selling up was the best business decision.
Regrettable, yes, but realistically not sustainable in the long run.
Tom Simpson (May 2016)

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Other Photos

Picture source: Movement80

Picture source: Movement80