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The Project

Vision

The George - " at the heart of Silsoe"
Our vision is to develop a community hub for Silsoe that will be a central focal point for village life and act as a catalyst to strengthen a sense of community in Silsoe. 

History

Today's George Hotel - in the middle of the High Street in Silsoe and at the centre of the village - is a relatively recent building when compared with the history of the inn itself. The first mention of it is on 26th December 1613 when the executors of John Child conveyed it to Richard Daniel for a relatively large sum of money - £240/10/6.  This indicates that it would have been a well-established business. 
John Byng, 5th Viscount Torrington, kept a detailed diary between 1781 and 1794.  He was a great traveller and he mentions the George on 30th May 1789 -

"A short Road [from Wrest Park] brought me, at 2 o'clock to The George Inn, Silsoe, a tolerable Noon Stop, free from Noise, close to The Park, and with a neat Garden; where on a Seat in a yew-Bush, I enjoy'd the fragrance of a Sweet Briar Hedge, Shelter'd from the Rain; I but just Escaped. The Stable here is very good, and The People very Civil. – Unluckily, I was too late for their Eggs and Bacon, So was obliged to have a bad fry'd Beef-Steak;- but I brought good sauce with me".

The Ampthill Petty Sessions of 20th December 1838 recorded that the George was "untenantable and irreparable".  As a result the licence was moved to a new building. It is likely that the old building was demolished soon afterwards. The current building was largely rebuilt during the early 19th century,  further up the High Street and on the opposite side of the road.  This building was listed by the former Department of Environment in 1960 as Grade III but is no longer listed.  The building had a "long, imposing frontage" and comprised, on the ground floor, a saloon bar, a public bar with four beer pulls, a coffee room ("very good"), a private drawing room ("good"), a club room ("fair"), a kitchen and a scullery. It was, no doubt to this club room that the deputation from the Borough of Bedford proceeded after their meeting with King Edward VII at Wrest Park in July 1909.  Upstairs lay seven bedrooms ("3 of them letting bedrooms"), a bathroom and three W. C's.

Despite its central location in a rapidly growing village, the George Hotel closed its doors on January 5, 2015. The George Hotel used to be a thriving hotel and pub attracting visitors travelling along the A6 and visiting surrounding areas, including English Heritage-operated Wrest Park, as well as serving the local community. 
The decline, which lead to the subsequent sale and closure, started around 2003 following the unsuccessful search for a long term tenant and with the agreement with the most recent tenant to operate on a number of short term tenancies. The short term nature of the lease ensured that there was little incentive for the tenants to invest in the pub and upgrade the interior, whilst the Pub Co showed little enthusiasm in the maintenance of the exterior or keeping it going as a hotel, even removing the pub from the Greene King website. 

These years of underinvestment meant the hotel rooms were closed in 2007, as they didn’t meet fire regulations, and that the pub no longer provided an attractive venue either for visitors to Silsoe or the majority of the local community. This had the inevitable knock‐on effect of it losing custom and failing to make a profit, thereby leading to further under investment with neither the tenants nor Pub Co profiting from the business. 

Following an offer by a local developer, Greene King decided to sell the premises and substantial lands around the building. The initial plans presented by the new owners to Central Bedfordshire Council were promising and envisaged an extensively refurbished Hotel, whilst building 3 large (4/5 bedroom) detached houses on the land behind the pub in order to pay for it. Despite the promises given at the time of the planning application, following its approval and the commencement of the building works, in September 2015, the George  was placed on the open market initially with an asking price of £750,000 for the Freehold or £100,000 for a 3 year lease; most recently, the George has been awarded status of an Asset of Community Value (ACV), this means any sale has to go on hold, to give the community the opportunity to purchase it for the benefit of Silsoe.

The Future

The project aims are based on consulting with the community and comprise of two key areas - 
Aim One - to provide a flexible, multi-purpose community facility that is sustainable for the future
Aim Two - To protect essential services for the village 

This means that we look to purchase the building and to extend the current building, implement a new internal lay-out to create 7 en-suite bedrooms, new bar and restaurant areas, and for the creation of the post‐office in order to bring this magnificent building back to life.

Our Business Plan, is available to view with our share offer, where you will find full details for how we plan to bring The George back to life and, once again, make it "the heart of Silsoe".
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