THE former landlady of a “beautiful community pub” which is set to become a mosque has hit back at claims by the new owner that it was a hive of alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Colgrave Arms in Cann Hall Road has been bought by a local Muslim organisation and plans are in place to turn it into a place of worship and community centre.
But former landlord has defended the pub against claims by the new owners, Cann Hall Deen and Education Trust (CHDET), who said customers caused problems in the area.
Julie Edmondson, 40, says the pub’s closure was due owners, Enterprise Inns, shutting down a number of pubs to cut costs.
She said: “We were disappointed to see the pub close. It is such a beautiful building and anyone who goes round there will be able to see that.
“But there was never any trouble, and definitely no stabbing. There was a young boy who was chased and stabbed nearby, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the pub.
“It is a misled conception that all people that drink in pubs are alcoholics and out to cause trouble.
“The Colgrave Arms was a place for people to socialise. Someone needs to stand up and defend pubs.”
Miss Edmondson has since taken over at the nearby Loaded Dog pub in Leytonstone High Road, and many of the Colgrave Arms regulars have moved with her.
One customer, who worked at the Colgrave Arms for six years, said that he never saw any trouble at the pub.
Colin Berner, 25, who lives just off Leytonstone High Road, said: “The place was so friendly and had a lot of the same people who now go to the Loaded Dog.
“It was a proper community pub. I am not opposed to it being a mosque, but I hope it keeps the same community spirit it has always had.”
Last week the Guardian reported that CHDET had until last Friday (July 23) to raise £164,000 to complete the £678,000 purchase of the 18th century listed building.
The organisation now reports that the deal is set to go through, with an appeal launched to raise funds for refurbishment work to enable the building to be opened in time for the festival of Ramadan, on August 11.
However, the council confirmed that the trust must apply for permission to carry out any works and change the use of the building.
A statement on the trust’s website says: “We urgently need £49,500 to prepare the property.
“Please donate generously and allow us the opportunity to use the Masjid this Ramadan.”