Former boss leads protest over Falcon’s name change


PLANS to rename Stratford-upon-Avon’s iconic Falcon Hotel have been met with uproar, with many claiming the move smacks of a lack of respect for the town’s history.

The Herald reported last week how parent company Somerston Capital Ltd announced that following a refurbishment in 2018 the venue will be re-branded Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon.

The news has provoked furious anger with many calling on the company to rethink its plan for the 83-bedroom, Grade II-Listed hotel.

The property, which has been named the Falcon since 1661, is the oldest continually-licenced premises in Stratford and its wooden frontage is instantly recognisable.

Denis Woodhams, who was manager at the Falcon Hotel between 1979 and 1982 and then proprietor until 1992, said: “I was absolutely horrified when I saw this news, the Falcon has been there for more than 400 years and it’s steeped in history, it is so much a part of Stratford and I’m extremely disappointed that they have decided to do this.

“I think it’s disrespectful to Stratford and its history to do this, you wouldn’t change the name of the Shakespeare Birthplace would you? During my time there I moved lots of organisations from the town into the Falcon, the Rotary Club, the Round Table, the Ladies’ Luncheon Club, and a number of others, it really became a hub of the town.

“I don’t think it is a valid argument to say that the name needs to be changed to keep the business financially viable, it will be very successful as long as they have the right management team in place. When I was there I am pleased to say it was probably the most popular venue in Stratford.”

Former Stratford mayor, Joyce Taylor, added: “As a former mayor and a passionate Stratfordian I like to talk to people and I know this iconic building is a great source of interest for visitors and residents.

“The problem is I think this decision has been made by people who don’t have a clue about Stratford and don’t realise that keeping the name would actually help them. We can’t let this happen, if only we can just make them see sense.

“Shakespeare would have seen this building every day when he was at school, he would have looked out at it. It would be tragic if we lost the Falcon name.” Facebook users have also been quick to give their opinions on the name change with most angry that such an idea is even being considered.

Jackie Williams commented: “What a ridiculous idea! Visitors from around the world coming looking for the Falcon not ‘that hotel with a name something to do with blue’.”

Wanda Brannan added: “Why change something that’s been the same for hundreds of years, what good will it do? They changed the names of Salmon Tail and Bell Court just to go back to the original names. Waste of time and money. Leave it be.”

However, not everyone is against the idea, Nigel Peace, president of Stratford Rotary Club, said: “The Rotary Club has been meeting at the Falcon for longer than my tenure, I would think it’s probably 20 years plus.

“Changing the name doesn’t bother me at all, if it was my business, and I had invested a lot of money into it, I would want to think that I could do whatever I wanted with it, including changing the name. It won’t make a difference to us at the Rotary Club, I think there has been an improvement in service since the new owners have come in and we’re very happy with it.”

Shaun Robinson, chief executive of Somerston Capital Ltd, the parent company of the Hotel Indigo group, said: “The Falcon Hotel went into administration in 2014 and the hotel is now under new ownership. In order to ensure the long-term future and financial viability of the hotel, an international brand with the right systems to attract guests from around the globe is needed.

“We’re committed to ensuring a strong future for the hotel and maintaining The Falcon’s heritage and charm throughout the design of the hotel and in particular the restaurant.”

See this week’s Stratford-upon-Avon Herald for a letter on the name issue from The Falcon’s General Manager Jason Mayglothling.