The people desperate to save a Wetherspoon they've been going to for years

The exterior of The Bears Head pub
The Bears Head pub has been a high street feature for decades -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

"It’s what I call a hub pub, its where people meet and have a lovely chat. There have never been any problems there, it's safe and people can go in with their children."

Those are the words of John Brookes, a 75-year-old who has been a regular visitor of The Bears Head since it opened 24 years ago. John is among those very unhappy at the news that the pub in Penarth will be closing its doors after over two decades. Petitions have been set up to prevent the closure, which was announced in March. John says he got 12 pages of signatures in a week from people who want the pub to stay open.

John visited the pub every day for six days to speak to the punters and ask them to sign his petition to save the establishment from closing. He says every person he asked willingly signing the petition, ranging in age from 19 to 80.

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John is concerned that the closure of the pub will have a negative impact on many lives as people socialise and spend their time there, saying: "It’s a shame, it will hurt a lot of people. We don’t want Penarth to become another ghost town, we want to keep the centre vibrant.”

Wetherspoons are known for their affordable food and drinks, which is one aspect that many people seem to dread losing. John thinks that the closure will be a great loss, especially for those who aren't able to afford other pubs in the area. He said: "It’s going to decimate Penarth because a lot of the other pub's prices are around £6 a pint or £10 for a glass of wine. It worries me that people... can’t afford £6 a pint in another pub or a breakfast and cup of coffee in other places."

John has been a regular visitor at The Bears Head since it opened over 20 years ago -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne
John has been a regular visitor at The Bears Head since it opened over 20 years ago -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

Another seemingly common reason people enjoy the pub is the "nice atmosphere" and the social aspect. Sarah Barton, 73, visits four times a week from her home in Barry. She says that the reason she likes the pub so much is because it is "close to the beach, the atmosphere is good and everyone is nice". Sarah is confused as to why the pub is closing and believes it can't be attributed to poor sales. She said: "I don't understand why it is closing, it's not struggling, I've never seen it not busy. People of all ages and social classes visit the pub, regulars and newcomers."

Sarah is a regular at The Bears Head in Penarth -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne
Sarah is a regular at The Bears Head in Penarth -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

People visit the pub in Penarth from places as far away as Tonyrefail, Merthyr, Risca and Aberdare. Many people are worried that the closure of The Bears Head will lead to a decline in footfall in and around the town centre. As well as John's written petition, another online petition was set up by resident Nick Simmons. Nick, although not a regular at the pub, visits occasionally with his friends. He said: "Over time, The Bears Head, has been somewhere me and friends in Penarth have grown up with and one of the key pubs in the area and I noticed the announcement about it closing [got] quite a strong response from the general public and the community in Penarth.”

He started the petition the day after the announcement was made. It currently has 1,139 signatures, with people leaving comments supporting the petition. Nick said: "All the comments on the petition have been amazing, seeing the various responses from people from all walks of life and how the closure of the pub would affect them." Join our WhatsApp news community here for the latest breaking news.

One comment stated: "Would be an absolute shame for The Bears Head to shut its doors. It’s a meeting place for so many people within the community." Another said: "The Bea's Head is an important Penarth asset. I actually travel regularly from Cardiff because it is such a pleasant rendezvous. It would be a disaster to lose it."

Nick himself says it will be a "shame" for the pub to close as it "has been established in Penarth for many years now." He said: "It's quite a cheap and cheerful pub, as a Wetherspoon it's affordable, especially in a cost of living crisis. People use it as a meeting point for family members, friends and for people that aren’t necessarily from Penarth as well. It has formed its own identity in Penarth, quite a central place like a community hub rather than just being seen as another town pub."

Both Nick and John wrote to CEO of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, and their petitions have been acknowledged by the company. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "We can confirm that The Bears Head will be closing. However, there is no closing date as yet. In the meantime it will continue to trade as normal. We fully acknowledge the petitions and the fact that people want the pub to remain open. However, Wetherspoon does close pubs on occasion, and this is the case here. It is a commercial decision by the company to do so.”