THE future of an historic pub, described by one regular as being like a “village hall for the community”, is shrouded in uncertainty as worried neighbours, fear it may be bulldozed with an unwelcome new development built in its place.

For many the Black Horse represents the heart of the community in Moss Bank, where it has stood for generations.

The old building on Moss Bank Road closed its doors last week, leaving regulars pondering what will happen to it.

Eddie Ratcliffe has been one of those regulars for 35 years.

The 71-year-old, who lives close by said: “We have heard that it’s been bought by a developer who had three previous properties; two of which were flattened.

“That’s why we are worried. This is the oldest pub in the area and services the community. It’s like a village hall.

“We have a petition at the moment, which shows the level of feeling against it. We know many pubs are struggling and closing down and we don’t want it to happen here. We have already lost the Saracen’s Head.

“The Black Horse has a lot of history, but these days there doesn’t seem to be any investment in pubs. They are just being closed down.

“The ideal outcome would be for someone to redevelop it. The last thing we want it is shut. It’s our local and people could just nip in. They had darts and bowling teams, as well.”

Members of real ale group CAMRA have also spoken up about the future of the pub.

Alan Healy from St Helens CAMRA said: “We are very concerned about the situation with the Black Horse. Too many of our pubs are under threat of closure and this always has a negative effect on the local community. We would support any effort made to save this pub and we will object to any planning application for change in use from licensed premises.

“Unfortunately more and more pubs are faced with this situation as the government is taxing beer out of the reach of ordinary people with the beer duty escalator and the losers are always the communities which are served by our hard pressed pubs.”

A spokesperson from Punch Taverns, who owned the pub, said they can not comment at this time.