THE FORMER landlord of a historic Swinton pub is battling to save the venue from being demolished.
Rotherham Council bought the Ship Inn in 2009 as part of a project to improve the area around the Dearne and Dove Canal.
It has been left derelict ever since, but now the Times can reveal that the pub - which dates back 250 years – is earmarked for demolition to make way for housing.
Former Licensee Brett Jones, 46, has now formed an on-line petition called “Abolish the Demolish!” in a bid to save the pub.
He said: “If they build flats there, then this will hit the nightlife in Swinton.
“I also run the Bridge Bar, which is next to the Ship site, and if it is turned into housing then the Bridge Bar would be at risk of closing, because of complaints about noise from the new residents.
“The building is very old and it should be retained. There are many things it could be turned into.
“I have heard that three businessmen have already come forward and are looking at turning it into either a computer shop, grocery store or back into a pub.”
He added that the venue has also become a target for vandals in the two years since the council purchased it, saying: “The police were out here recently because there were reports some kids had got in the building through the roof.
“People supposedly also heard screaming. But thankfully they did not find anyone trapped inside. I think the council has left the building to rot.
“They have also been very secretive all the way through about what their intentions are for the site.”
“Once I get enough signatures on the petition, I will be sending it to the council. Hopefully this will go some way to stopping them from bulldozing it.”
However, Swinton Councillor Ken Wyatt confirmed last week that a report had indicated the best way forward would be to flatten the site and turn it into housing.
He said: “The pub was originally purchased under the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder scheme to improve Swinton.
“I would have liked to have preserved the older parts of the building, particularly that which is shaped like a ship.
“But we had an Options Appraisal undertaken and it said that it would not be practical to retain that part of the building – not only because of the cost, but also because of the shape of the building.”
He added: “The recommendation is that it is demolished, and the next stage we are looking at will most likely be to clear the site.
“Then we will look at the option of building living accomodation there. But this will be a lengthy process.
“I would like there to be some sort of reminder of what was there on any new build, because the pub does date back to the 18th century.”
He added that no specific proposals have been put forward yet, and any plans submitted would be subject to approval from the planning board.
A spokeswoman for Rotherham Council said the authority bought The Ship Inn “as a strategic start to the much-needed regeneration of the Swinton Canal area”.
She added that though it is not a listed building, the site will: “Feature as one of the priorities of the overall masterplan for the area.
“It has not been left to rot because since its acquisition, the building has received regular maintainance and is fully equipped with both alarm and surveillance systems.
“However, there are no plans to convert it into a commercial enterprise because the site itself is central to the wider regeneration of the area which has seen many environmental improvements in recent years.
“Discussions have been ongoing on a regular basis with both the public and local groups to see how the area can be improved and these will continue.”