ANOTHER Hartlepool pub has fallen under the axe to make way for new development.
The Woodcutter, in Kingsley Avenue, will call last orders for the final time towards the end of the month.
It is the latest victim in a long line of closures and demolitions of popular town boozers in what Woodcutter manager Chris Farrow says is becoming a “dying trade”.
The pub, which was owned by the Scottish & Newcastle brewery, has been sold to property developer Euro Property Management.
The property firm has already bought and developed a number of Hartlepool pubs to turn into shops and flats.
Speculation had mounted that the Woodcutter was closing earlier in the year when Chris, 56, gave up his three-year tenancy at the premises.
But he stayed on as manager and appeared in the Mail in May offering assurance that the pub was not closing.
But today Chris confirmed the pub’s closure.
He said: “I’m obviously very upset about it, it’s another pub gone in the town.
“Once Scottish & Newcastle put it on the market for sale, obviously we knew what was going to happen to the place.”
Chris added that a combination of cheap supermarket booze, drinking habits changing, extended opening hours and higher business rates, as well as the smoking ban, were factors leading to the demise of town pubs.
Chris, who will lose his home above the pub and his job, added: “I will have to see what’s kicking around, at the moment it’s a dying trade.”
Two barmaids will also lose their jobs.
Prior to running The Woodcutter, Chris had been in charge of The Station Hotel, in Seaton Lane, for three years.
The Station’s fate was also sealed when it was sold into the hands of Euro Property Management and was demolished to make way for a Sainsbury’s Local store.
John Whitfield, of Euro Property Management, said: “We are looking at the options on the Woodcutter at the moment, but it looks like the pub will be demolished.
“It’s more than likely it will be a residential development, probably of houses, pending planning approval.”
Mr Whitfield’s firm has acquired a string of Hartlepool pubs in recent years.
He said: “I would say unfortunately the pubs aren’t being supported as much as they might have been.”
Mr Whitfield said a number of pubs, like the White House and Tall Ships, which are more family-orientated, are well-used and added that there are still new pubs opening in town, including one planned near the Brenda Road roundabout.
“We have got requirements for a couple of major pub companies looking for sites,” he added.
“The pubs are changing more towards the likes of the Toby Carvery – they want more main road and arterial road locations.
“Hartlepool has a lot of pubs for the size of the town, but people don’t get out as much as they used to go out.”
He said: “The Woodcutter was a huge pub, but apart from the odd party or function, there was only usually a handful of people in there.
“A business can’t run or make money doing that, because they are not getting the people in.
“You look at The White House and Black Olive – those places are totally different and people want to go to them.
“You need to invest in them and keep the image right.”
l Mail view: Page 8