UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Fears for future of much-loved Bilston pub
One of Bilston’s best-loved and most recognisable pubs is facing an uncertain future after its licensees announced plans to leave this week.
Adam Fletcher and Becky Ward, who have run the popular Moseley Road venue for the last five years, revealed their departure on the pub’s Facebook page.
The news has left dedicated locals – many of whom have become personal friends of the couple – feeling sad and concerned about the long-term future of their favourite watering hole.
In their post, the couple said: “In the current climate we have had a lot to think about. It is with heavy hearts that we’ve made the difficult decision as a family that over the coming months we will be saying our goodbyes to the Grapes.
“We always knew that in 2021 our lease on the building would draw to an end and we would have to make the decision to either commit to another five years of early mornings, late nights, 17-plus hour days seven days a week, or bow out gracefully and focus on our other businesses.
“After what will be five years for us independently and an additional 17 years prior, we are – and forever will be – beyond grateful to all of you who’ve watched us grow and supported us for all of these years.
“Without the Grapes we wouldn’t be where we are today and able to achieve the things we have.
“Right now we’re not sure what the future holds for the Grapes. It’s our hope that whoever takes her on looks after her and loves her in the way she deserves – she’s been the heart of the community for so many years,” they added.
“So many of you wonderful people – like us – have grown up with the Grapes in your lives. It would be a crying shame to lose that now.
“Deep down, we always hoped that we would be able to open again – even if only for a short time just to be able say goodbye.
“But the reality is that the future of pubs/hospitality is uncertain right now, and who knows when or if things will ever return to ‘normal’ and without restrictions. Change is hard, but it is also needed to keep moving forward.”
Regular Andrew Wenlock replied: “Such sad news to hear this. I hope someone will take it over and give it the love you guys have. Communities need pubs like this.”
Lisa Colley-Mason said: “(This is) so very sad. I was brought up in Bilston and the Grapes has always been there. Sad times.”
Chris Thomas posted: “I and my late husband have some happy memories (of being) in the Grapes. It’s so sad. I do hope it will open with someone else because it’s part of the Stowlawn estate and surrounding area.”
John Anthony Birch added: “I hope it won’t be turned into flats – or even worse – demolished. It wouldn’t surprise me.”
Councillor Linda Leach (Lab. Bilston North) said: “It’s so sad to hear that Adam and Becky are leaving the Grapes pub. They have served our community well.
“The Grapes is the beating heart of Bilston North and is the only pub left in the area. People are going to miss going in for a quick pint, a bite to eat or to enjoy their Sunday lunch.
“The sad thing is, too many pubs are left empty these days and that can lead to vandalism and all sort of other problems.
“I really hope someone will come forward and take this fantastic pub on. It goes to show that these are really trying times for everyone and we’ve really never experienced anything like it before.
“As a small business owner in Bilston myself, I completely understand the effects Covid-19 has had on many small businesses. I just hope and pray that all of us get through this awful pandemic,” she added.