I WAS surprised to read the article by Chris Longhurst covering the dramatic plea from the self-appointed Friends of Eastcote House, to provide for a future for the Coach House, dovecote and stable block, and to see no mention of the fact that for over 80 years the Coach House has been the home of Eastcote Billiards Club, which has been a saviour to the building during that period (Plea for public to save historic house, Gazette, March 10).
Eastcote Billiards Club has had the best interests of these fine old buildings at heart for many more decades than the 'Friends of Eastcote House' have been in existence.
It appears that these Friends have not the slightest idea that the Coach House has provided a community amenity for local residents since 1930 - nor that the billiards club has provided for security, maintenance and occasional improvement of the building throughout its tenancy.
It would have been nice if the Friends of Eastcote House had consulted with the billiards club rather than try to create an unnecessary panic about the future of the buildings.
While anyone can see that a building over 500 years old requires maintenance and care, the suggestion that these buildings are at risk is overstating the case.
There never has been any indication through our tenancy that the building was in any sort of danger. Obviously there are minor settlement problems but the main threat is from superficial damage to the building caused by vandalism over the years, which led to internal window boarding being installed by our members - and intrusion and damage to the roofing by squirrels.
The billiards club has fought a battle for many years against vandalism and even three arson attempts, and has endeavoured to carry out its responsibilities in respect of the maintenance of this building above and beyond what has been expected under the lease.
When the new proposals were put to the council as part of a plan to secure a grant from the Heritage Trust late last year, it was stated that the club had a declining and ageing membership.
Although the ageing bit is legitimate, the statement about declining membership was not.
It was stated in the report to the council that because there was no activity during the evening, the building lacked security. That is nonsense; our presence at night has been such that we have been in touch with police, calling them in on several occasions when members have been aware of vandalism.
I note Councillor Bruce Baker said the building is a vital community resource; well, it is being used as such right now, providing an outlet for an often overlooked sector, the retired and elderly.
I submit that regular daily use is a far better utilisation of the building than as an occasional arts centre or meeting place.
Our 80 years of occupancy has been a benefit to the park and to the council and, most importantly, to the community. I doubt that any other tenants or user of the facility will be as caring and trouble-free as we have been.
I hope that this will be taken into account as the council considers the future.
HARRY SLATER Secretary, Eastcote Billiards Club