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Frindsbury pub, The Royal Oak, saved from demolition

By Lynn Cox

A historic pub earmarked for demolition to make way for new homes has been saved from the bulldozers.

The Royal Oak in Frindsbury has been at the centre of a campaign spearheaded by Strood resident Joe O’Donnell, who wanted to see the 17th century building retained for the community.

Mr O’Donnell launched a petition against the proposed housing plans, which attracted 1,000 signatures, and was delighted when Medway Council placed a community order on the building in Cooling Road.

Joe O'Donnell upstairs in the pub with a very old small door. Picture: Martin Apps.
Joe O'Donnell upstairs in the pub with a very old small door. Picture: Martin Apps.

The pub, which campaigners say contains part of a historic ship, was listed as an asset of community value by the authority, which meant the order would have been taken into consideration when the housing proposal was due before planning councillors.

But now Mr O’Donnell, 32, has now gone one step further and managed to get the building Grade II listed status.

As a result, the developers have how withdrawn the application to build on the site. Mr O’Donnell, who works for the Victorian Society, said: “I am absolutely over the moon – The Royal Oak has been listed by Historic England, meaning it won’t get permission to be demolished."

“I am so happy, the next step is to try to convince the developer to sell...” - Joe O'Donnell

Mr O’Donnell wants to apply for funding from a government scheme which helps communities buy their local pubs.

He said some investors in the Medway Towns have already shown an interest in putting some cash into the pot to buy the building.

As part of the application to Historic England (formerly English Heritage), Mr O’Donnell carried out comprehensive research on the history of the pub.

He said one theory was that it was named after HMS Royal Oak which was sunk at the Battle of Medway at Upnor in the Dutch raid of 1664.

Campaigners outside The Royal Oak in Cooling Road, Frindsbury
Campaigners outside The Royal Oak in Cooling Road, Frindsbury

He added: “I have been told by multiple local people that one of the beams in the pub is from the ship.

"This is conceivable since there were a number of shipbuilding yards in Frindsbury which could have broken up the remains for re-use after salvage from the Medway.”

It is not clear if the developers Interesting Developments Ltd will be redesigning their plans to submit another application to Medway Council or will be abandoning them altogether.

KentOnline's sister paper the Medway Messenger contacted the developers through its agent Nicholas Taylor and Associates, to see what their intentions were, but they have not replied.

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