Fight to save the Battle of Britain pub where pilots drowned their sorrows
Last updated at 3:22 PM on 15th May 2011
A 97-year-old widow today begged her 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.
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.
Under threat: Villagers are desperate to save The Plough in Shepreth because of its connections to The Battle of Britain
Teddy Handscombe, pictured fifth from left, outside the pub during its hey day. Her parents Fred and Ellen Lee ran the pub in the 1930s and 40s
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.
Pleas: Teddy Handscombe, 97, has appealed to planners not to allow the pub to be redeveloped
'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.'
Watering hole: The pub was regularly used by pilots who fought during The Battle of Britain and locals are keen to highlight its importance as an historical landmark
RAF fighter pilots who fought during the war regularly visited the pub from Duxford and from the bases at Fowlmere and Bassingbourn in 1940
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