A widow is pleading with a local council not to call time on a rural pub where some of “The Few” drowned their sorrows during The Battle of Britain.
Developers want South Cambridgeshire District Council to give permission to turn The Plough in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, – a village in Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s constituency – into a house.
97-year-oold Teddy Handscombe – whose parents, Fred and Ellen Lee, ran The Plough in the 1930s and 1940s – urged planners to remember the pub’s historical significance and force owners to sell it as a going concern.
She said she could still picture Spitfire and Hurricane pilots from nearby RAF Duxford – where some of the Second World War’s greatest fighter aces, including disabled hero Douglas Bader, were based – drinking in the bar in 1940.
“It would be a crime if we lost The Plough given its history. And there’s no reason for it,” said Mrs Handscombe, who still lives near the pub. “I would be terribly upset if it disappeared.”
She added: “I can still see those boys in there. They used to come from Duxford and from the bases at Fowlmere and Bassingbourn, which were also nearby.
“They had Wellington bombers at Bassingbourn. I remember they used to fly low over the pub. The Wellingtons would be so low that the tree across the road would bend.”
More than 400 villagers – including Mrs Handscombe, who moved to Shepreth in the 1930s after her parents left the Duke of York pub in King’s Cross, London – have signed a petition calling for councillors to reject any house plan for The Plough.
The Plough was turned into a restaurant a few years ago and shut in January.
Campaigners trying to stop a house being created say The Plough thrived when run as a traditional pub – and would again – but was the wrong site for a restaurant.
They argue that a village should not lose a pub because one owner made a mistake by creating a restaurant which failed.
The RAF fighter pilots who fought off Hitler’s Luftwaffe despite daunting odds, and stopped Germany invading during the summer of 1940, were immortalised by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Churchill said in a speech in August 1940 that the “British airmen” were “turning the tide” and added: “Never in the course of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”Bassingbourn, Douglas Bader, Duxford, Fighter Aces, Fowlmere, Second World War, The Plough Shepreth, Wellington bomber, Winston Churchill