A FAMILY who uprooted their life just eight months ago have been forced to leave the pub they run in Winchester, and it could soon be changed to a children’s nursery.
The Ship Inn, in Wales Street, has been sold by Marston’s to Hampshire-based nursery firm Yellow Dot.
Mark and Jo Vincent moved to The Ship last September, leaving behind four children, five grandchildren, and their jobs on the Isle of Wight, only to face months of upheaval.
In the confusion that followed, their son, Sam, 11, has been out of school since April, and Mark, 42, suffered a stroke in March.
The three are now preparing to move back to the Isle of Wight when the pub closes tomorrow (May 31).
Mrs Vincent, 44, a former community nurse, said they were notified of the pub’s sale by email a month after moving in, having spent “thousands” on renovating the upstairs flat.
“We uprooted everything to come here. I’m absolutely livid. I said that if we came here it has to be for a minimum of five years – it’s disgusting. They have taken our home and business off us. They have abused us and really put us through the mill.”
Winchester City Council registered a planning application on April 29 for the change of use, and if accepted the nursery could cater for up to 70 children.
Director of Yellow Dot, Jane Dyke, said the purchase of the site “is a risk worth taking.
“We have been looking for a nursery in Winchester for a while, parents have been saying to us over the years that it would be great to do one there,” she said.
“The Ship Inn would do well for a nursery because it’s on a commuter road in and out of the city, it’s got a decent amount of space for children, but it also has a very large car park for the centre of Winchester. It’s hard to find a building that fits the criteria for a nursery. It doesn’t work as a pub – for the last nine years it’s not made a profit.”
Mark Vincent, 42, a former supermarket manager, said since arriving they have campaigned hard to turn the pub’s reputation around.
He said: “It’s a nice atmosphere now because we don’t allow any aggravation and we have built up the business, and they don’t seem to care. I’m extremely disappointed.”
One regular punter, Wales Street resident Robert Charles, 30, a car salesman, said: “Stop the closure! This is a really good community pub. It will be a shame to close it. I haven’t had any information through my front door about it. This is a dangerous road to have a nursery on, the pavement is so narrow, I have been hit here three times. It will take somebody to be killed for them to take notice.”
A Marston’s spokesperson said: “The pub will cease trading at the beginning of June as we have exchanged contracts prior to the formal sale. It is our understanding that an alternative use application has been submitted to the council by the purchaser.”
A Winchester City Council spokesperson said: “It is too early to say if this application will go to committee or not.”