Barking’s The Hope pub to close on Sunday

A much loved pub which has stood on Barking’s Gascoigne Estate for more than 100 years will close for good this Sunday.

The Hope pub, built in 1903, has been sold by its owners, Punch Taverns, and will reportedly be turned in to a community centre.

Publicans Christine, 58, and John Mitchell, 47 had planned to leave this weekend, after their lease came to an end, but only learnt yesterday that the building would not be kept as a pub.

The news, says Christine, has devastated The Hope’s many customers: “The one’s I’ve spoken to so far are very upset by this.

“Many of them, from across the borough, have been coming here for years and can’t imagine Barking without The Hope.

“It’s such a community pub – people come here to meet, chat and have a few drinks. Without it many of them wouldn’t see each other.”

The pub’s cleaner, Julie, 58, (who did not want to give her surname) said she cried when she found out: “It was such a shock. I’ve been drinking at The Hope for about 22 years – it’s very sad that its now closing.”

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Christine, who has heard The Hope will be turning in to a community centre, says she had tried to sell the lease of the pub, in Gascoigne Road, but without success.

“My husband and I had decided to take on a smaller pub in Stansted Mountfitchet, so did put the lease up for sale, but no one bought it.

“Not many people want to take on pubs these days as they just don’t do as well as they used to. The Hope’s still popular but we don’t have as many people as we did a few years ago.

“There are a variety of reasons for this: the smoking ban, the changing demographic of the borough and cheap alcohol in the supermarkets. Many prefer to stay home and drink now.”

She says the government should offer pubs more financial and practical support and prevent supermarkets from selling alcohol at low prices.

“We can’t do anything about The Hope now, but maybe something can be done to save other pubs.”

A closing party will take place at the pub this Sunday from noon. A sale of the pub’s contents and other wares will be held in the car park.