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27 February 2010  (updated 09 March 2010)

The former Great Eastern Pub on New Ferry Road is yet again being threatened with demolition.

There had been speculation about what was to happen to the building after it was reportedly sold at auction at the end of last year and surveyors were later spotted working in and around it.

A planning application was submitted to Wirral Borough Council on 24th February 2010 by Worksharp Ecohomes LTD (Hesketh Mount, 92-96 Lord Street, Southport, Merseyside PR8 1JR) to demolish the pub to replace it with 10 no 2 storey semi-detached houses.  However, the following week the application disappeared from the Council's website after having been deemed "invalid". This usually means that the applicant has not provided all the information required as part of the application, and the applicant will be expected to resubmit their application with the missing information included.  At this stage, we have no idea if and when Worksharp intend to do this.  

The building, dating back to 1862, was originally a pub/hotel built to cater for visitors who came to New Ferry when it was a holiday/day tripping resort during the latter half of the 19th century. It was renamed the Great Eastern in memory of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous passenger ship which was broken up on the adjacent New Ferry shore in 1888/9.  The ship's bar, ship's wheel and a stained glass window were among items salvaged from the ship and fitted into the pub.  However, these artefacts were removed by the last owners - who presumably sold them knowing what they were and how valuable they were.  The bar was replaced with a non-descript piece of brickwork.


The future of the pub was raised in the series of public meetings held in February about the East Wirral Heritage & Nature Trail scheme linking the Rock Ferry Pier with Eastham Woods Country Park via New Ferry.  In those days before we knew the building had been purchased by a housing development company, residents had been asking that the Council do what was possible to investigate whether the building could either reopen as a restaurant/cafe at the mid-point along the new trail, or even it could make a local heritage centre.  It was recognised that securing funding for such a venture would be a major problem, but at least the idea was there.

Now that the new owner has been identified and has made his intentions known, and because the pub is not a listed building nor is in a Conservation Area, the owner only needs to give the Council notice that he intends to demolish it.  Although listing of the building by English Heritage would have been more likely if the original artefacts from the ship had remained inside it, NFRAG is still hoping that a listing might be possible.  However, it is feared that the owner could try to beat this and demolish the building anyway before English Heritage can reach their decision.

On Friday 5th March, a crew arrived and tore off the steel shutters which had sealed and protected the building since it closed in 2007.  All four doors were then smashed off their hinges, and all removable contents from the pub were taken away in vans.  The pub was left wide open for vandals and arsonists to move in.  It was only thanks to the vigilance of local residents that the Council and police were alerted.  The Council sent an emergency response team to board up the doors, whilst residents and the community police protected the building from a gang of teenagers who turned up just after darkness fell; these teenagers had been seen earlier brandishing lighters.  The residents feel they prevented the pub from being torched that night.  You can see photographs of the perpetrators doing the deed, and the aftermath of destruction which they left behind by going to the Wiki Wirral Forum.

Many members of the New Ferry community are alarmed at the prospect of losing this landmark building from the eastern side of the A41 bypass, although others are concerned that the empty building will attract more attention from vandals.  New Ferry Regeneration Action Group will continue to monitor the situation.

We have set up an online petition asking for the pub to be protected or saved from demolition.  You can sign it by going