A former mayor has accused Greene King of ‘eroding the historical integrity and character’ of Bury St Edmunds by replacing traditional pub signage with ‘bland’ designs.
Mike Ames says the new signs installed outside the Dog and Partridge and Spread Eagle as part of a rebranding exercise by the brewery would look more at home in a shopping mall or airport lounge.
The signs espouse the classic illustration and just opt for the names of the pubs with the words ‘Flame Grill’.
Mr Ames, who is a member of the British Inn Signs Society, said: “British pub signs have been about for hundreds of years and they are part of the integral history of the town.
“I’m very concerned that Greene King is not honouring the historical integrity and character of the town. Traditional signs will come down and bland ones will go up.
“There’s no artistic merit to them at all. They maybe more appropriate in a shopping mall or departure lounge than in the historical context of the town.
“As a past mayor of the town I’m incensed this is happening.”
He has raised the matter with the Bury Society and written to Bury MP David Ruffley.
Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said: “Of course you have to modernise but something that has no character is a great disappointment not just for Bury St Edmunds but nationally.
“English pub and inn signs are a gret part of our heritage equally as much as a thatched roof.
“It’s becoming very characterless and anybody could have designed the new look - there’s no imagination or artistic skill. It’s a great shame.”
A spokeswoman for Greene King said many of their pubs have the historic pictorial signs which are ‘popular with many traditional pub-goers’.
She said: “Some of our newer more family focussed concepts such as Flame Grill and Meet and Eat have a more contemporary signage in keeping with their style, which is designed to appeal to everyone looking for a great family dining experience.
“Of the 2,300 pubs that Greene King operates, around 200 will have their signs changed to the Flame Grill and Meet and Eat designs.”
She confirmed that the Spread Eagle, in Out Westgate, and the Dog and Partridge, in Crown Street, Bury, now display the more contemporary pub signage as part of the Flame Grill concept.
When asked what happens to the old signs when they are replaced, she added: “Where there is an historical value in the old signage we will try to store them ourselves for safekeeping.”