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Sunday 3 April 2011

Death Of A Roadhouse

Public houses across the UK are closing down: in January 2009, one estimate was “six a day”, which makes 42 a week. By July that year, another survey had the weekly closure rate up at 52. And no class of pub is more vulnerable and visible than roadhouses, large and imposing hostelries built during the late 1800s and early 1900s to serve new housing estates and tap passing trade.

Beyond last orders: the Cross Keys

In Crewe, The Earl, a roadhouse pub on Nantwich Road, was lost recently when its owners sold out to supermarket chain Aldi, and now The Cross Keys, overlooking a roundabout north of the town centre, has gone, this latter to enable developers Taylor Wimpey to create an entrance road to a new housing estate.

Open land - the developer's prize

Sadly, the Cross Keys was doubly vulnerable: it had been closed last year, so its existence was more than likely marginal, and development of the open space to the north of Remer Street was always a likelihood – the only problem with a new housing development was getting access.

Illustration from Taylor Wimpey

As can be seen from the illustration provided by Taylor Wimpey, the new estate would have two entrances, but the main one (left centre) is from the roundabout that the Cross Keys at present overlooks. It’s also clear that the open space behind Remer Street is big enough for around 650 new houses, as well as a replacement pub and a community store.

Last look before demolition

And so the world moves on: cheap supermarket beer, less passing trade, and competition have done for the Cross Keys. The new housing estate will provide jobs for construction workers, and shoppers for Crewe town centre, which certainly needs them.

Thus the way of the world.

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