The furious landlord of a beloved pub in South West London “stripped” the building and kitchens after being forced out by a brewery.
The Plough in East Sheen, Richmond was leased to the landlord for over 10 years, but has now been taken over by the Fuller’s chain, leaving locals furious.
Landlord Tony O’Neill had to handover the pub to owners Fuller’s this week, but the chain has claimed it was not a “quick and smooth handover”.
The chain claims the pub has been “totally stripped” and left them with “a lot of work to do” ahead of the relaunch. The former landlord has also taken on a new pub and the staff from The Plough have gone with him.
But Tony said the comments from Fuller’s that he stripped the pub were “a load of nonsense”. The landlord said his team “removed some of the fixtures and fittings that we put in that I will be using again in the new pub”.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr O’Neill said: “The community were up in arms about it, the opposition to it was like an avalanche of people absolutely distraught.”
(Image: Google Street View)
He claimed that he offered to buy the pub from Fuller’s at 25 per cent over the asking price, or to extend his lease. But the offer was turned down.
He added: “I’ve never seen this behaviour from a dysfunctional company in all my life.”
Tony says he owns some of the land on the premises and said he thinks he will turn it into a community walk-in area for people to have coffee.
He also claims he was charged rent from January to April this year while the country was under lockdown measures.
Local Conservative councillor Brian Marcel has started a petition for Fuller’s to extend the popular landlord’s lease. At the time of writing, it has more than 1,700 signatures.
Cllr Marcel told the LDRS: “[He] really built up this pub from pretty much a disaster 10 to 15 years ago and made it a fantastic pub.
“He’s really spent a lot of money on it and he’s really made it into a community. Everybody knows each other.”
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Resident Paul Maher said on Twitter: “A big fat raspberry to Fuller’s for shuttering the nicest pub in their estate. With no explanation or proper warning to punters. Hope they are not hoping for any support from locals for planning applications.”
A spokesperson for Fuller’s said: “When Fuller’s acquired The Plough in East Sheen just over a decade ago, we did so with the stated intention of taking it into our managed estate when the current lease came to an end.
“We’ve waited patiently and that day has now arrived. It is an outstanding pub and we look forward to seeing it flourish under our tenure in the future.
“We were hoping for a quick and smooth handover, but as the pub has been totally stripped, we have a lot of work to do and that is going to take some time.
The chain later added: “We understand that the previous tenant has taken on a new pub and the team from The Plough have gone with him and we would like to take this opportunity to wish them every success in the future.”