Morrisons agrees to talks over Farriers Arms future
SUPERMARKET giant Morrisons has agreed to meet campaigners who want the company to donate the Farriers Arms to the community.
Protesters outside the former pub gathered signatures on a petition in support of their bid to put the historic building back into use.
It has stood empty, with its windows bricked up, since October 2010, when the last pint was pulled after 143 years of serving beer.
Morrisons owns the building, which stands next to its supermarket at the corner of Fishponds Road and Hockeys Lane, and had plans to demolish it rejected by Bristol City Councilin February.
The company wanted to replace it with an open area described as a "public realm".
Morrisons has previously ignored proposals from the Campaign for Real Ale to revive the pub and from community groups to transform it into a hub.
But pressure has been stepped up on the firm, which is in the middle of a multibillion-pound takeover battle, to give something back to the community, with the first of a series of protests organised by the Fishponds Road Revival group held on September 25.
Fishponds Road Revival chair Kathe Jacob said: "This is only the beginning.
"The aim is to persuade Morrisons to donate the pub, and then we will have to do crowd funding and find skilled people to work with us – it will be a community effort to restore it.
Kathe said the group already had some volunteers but, until they were allowed to see what the building was like inside, it was impossible to say how much work was needed to restore it.
They had received expressions of interest from local real ale brewers in running a licensed bar but this could be just one of a variety of uses for arts, learning or social events.
Grant funding could be available for a community-owned building.
But Kathe said: "It's going to be a long haul.
"Morrisons is still talking about commercial viability – we want to shift the dialogue to community outcomes.
"They should see the light."
A company spokesperson said: "Morrisons will be meeting with the group to listen to their concerns and explore possibilities."
First to sign the petition was Daniel Gearing, who has lived in the area for 30 years and attended one of the last gigs at the Farriers Arms before it closed.
He said: "I don't care what the building is used for – it could be anything at all, as long as it's preserved."