Fresh appeal after historic pub fire

POLICE are renewing appeals for information about a fire which devastated an historic pub in Coggeshall - as campaigners try to save the building.

The fire is believed to have started at The Cricketers at around 1:30pm on Saturday June 19 and quickly swept through the building.

Inspector Mick Pitcher is renewing the police appeal for information, as local people join the fight to preserve the building.

He said: “Coggeshall is one of Essex’s most historic and striking market towns, and The Cricketers site is a part of our culture. We want to bring those responsible for the fire to justice, and we also welcome and support the efforts of the community to preserve and restore The Cricketers building.”

Michael Horne, Coggeshall Parish Councillor, added: “This building must be saved at any cost, since through it a good deal of the town’s history can be revealed.”

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Mr Horne, a keen historian, said he had no doubt about the historic importance of The Cricketers’ site.

“The original central section, a three-storied timber-framed building, is extremely old, dating from around 1420 to 1440. This was also the beginning of Coggeshall’s great period of prosperity as a wool town.”

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His research has revealed that in 1775 the building was known as the Old Hall, or the Shambles.

On the east side of the building was Pellery or Pillory Lane, which still exists as a through-way path. The pillory and stocks for Great Coggeshall probably stood at the south end of this lane. Opposite the building, a few yards up on the north side of West Street, were the town’s first almshouses, recorded in 1575.

Mr Horne added: “The Cricketers got its present name around 1800, when a new facade was put up, encasing the much older original structure. It was the favoured pub of King’s Seed Merchants who had premises immediately opposite in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

The Coggeshall Museum also recognises the central part that The Cricketers played in the life of the local community, and has many photographs and other mementoes from its history.

Shirley Ratcliffe, voluntary curator of the Coggeshall Museum, explained: “The King’s Seed merchants actually owned the premises from about 1850 onwards and the beer sold there was brewed at their own brewery on the Gravel, just a few hundred metres away. In the museum we have two bottles from Kings brewery, both still containing beer!

“Employees at JK King (the largest seed producer in Victorian England) were ‘encouraged’ to patronise the Cricketers and it was the local for Coggeshall Town football team, mainly I suspect because JK King was a prime sponsor of that team.”

The Cricketers was reinvigorated by a recent landlord in 2008 to 2010, but following June’s fire, is in need of help and support. If anyone would like to help, please call 01376 562921.

Anyone with information about the fire should call police at Witham on 0300 3334444, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”

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