A week in Fishguard. Saving Fishguard.
Before going to Fishguard, I checked out #fishguard on twitter to see if there was anything going on. The tag is little used it seems though one person tweeted that there was lots of talk on FB on how to “save” Fishguard. I wasn’t sure what Fishguard needed saving from although last year we noticed that there were quite a few empty shops. Already there was no butcher’s shop…..
The Royal Oak, pictured above, has apparently been empty since just before Christmas. Various reasons have been put forward and the owners, Brains Brewery, have decided not to put in a manager. Now some of went to the pub last year and, to be honest, it wasn’t a wonderful experience- it felt dirty, smelt of stale fat and was generally run down. Perhaps that is the main reason it closed- that British attitude that you just have to be there in order to attract customers.That service is equated with servitude. It is a great shame because the pub is ideally located, has a large garden looking down to the old harbour and of course it has an important role to play in the history of Fishguard [add link]
The Farmer’s Arms is also shut, as is the Abergwaun Hotel, all in the main square. This gives the town a shabby look.
But two new shops have opened….
The Gourmet Pig is a deli providing quality food and local produce.The range of food on offer was good and the service excellent-putting up with our dithering and providing expert advice. The owner was upbeat and sees Fishguard as being at the beginning of a revival.
Across the way there is a new greengrocers, Fishguard Fruits.
I didn’t actually go in but it seemed to be doing good business. I hope that these businesses do well, serving both the local and tourist communities.
There is quite a large COOP in town- is this a good thing or limiting the options of independent retailers? I’m not sure. But I do think that if a larger chain moves in this will kill off local shops. This is not a view shared by all: a County Echo article sees the interest of large chains moving to Fishguard as “the light at the end of the tunnel for Fishguard’s retail sector.” This debate is one that is echoed across the UK and I suspect, elsewhere.
Another factor raised in the difficulties that Fishguard faces is the “second home.” The people we spoke to were not opposed to holiday lets but suggested that second home owners did not contribute enough to the local economy. Nothing new there then…….
PS: There is a great butcher’s shop up the road in Newport… (no links.)