Whittlesey pub named after town’s most famous war hero- is to close and become a vets

Former Hero of Aliwal pub, Whittlesey

Former Hero of Aliwal pub, Whittlesey - Credit: Archant

A Whittlesey pub that owes its name to the town’s most famous soldier is to be used for a vets’ practice.

The Hero of Aliwal – named after Sir Harry Smith and his role in the Battle of Aliwal in India- ceased trading in May last year.

Now Fenland Council has agreed a change of use for the Briggate East pub to become a veterinary centre.

Planning officers said the owners of the pub had demonstrated it was no longer financially viable; they had carried out a marketing exercise but there were no buyers.

The council said they had also demonstrated “there is a lack of community need for the facility” but the only interest came from a change of use.

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“The evidence demonstrates that there is no interest in retaining the use of the building as a public house,” says a council assessment.

“The applicant has an existing business in the town and the relocation will allow him to expand, retaining and improving a community facility which is a material consideration.”

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The vet will relocate from Broad Street.

One resident told the council there were already two pubs nearby “and the daytime opening hours of a vet will be an improvement over having a pub open late in the evening.

“In past years sometimes this resulted in disturbance with people shouting and the sound of cars revving up and sounding their horns leaving at closing time.

“In addition I would much prefer that the building is used instead of being left empty.”

It is the second Whittlesey pub this year to disappear; the Bricklayers is to be the site for 35 retirement homes.

FOOTNOTE: Sir Harry George Waklyn Smith (1788–1860) was born in Whittlesey. His military career saw him rise from a rifleman to the rank of Major General, and Baronet of Aliwal. He was governor of the Cape of Good Hope from 1847-1852 during a period of intense unrest.

The house in which he was born bears a plaque with his name written on it.

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