The Old Thai House Restaurant

Many readers won’t have missed the on-line furore last weekend about the possible demolition of the Old Thai House Restaurant (formerly Betty Brown Tea Room) on the London Road.  The sudden interest is a bit of a surprise, because complete redevelopment of that part of Camberley was first suggested by the borough council – to our knowledge – some sixteen years ago.  Outline plans are also published on the council’s website, but in spite of this the prospect had escaped the notice of many people.

Anyway, we have the greatest sympathy with all those directly impacted by the long-standing ‘planning blight’.  It’s only a matter of a week or two since a worried affected business-person stopped us in the street to ask what the latest information was.  But this ‘human aspect’ is separate from the architectural and historic aspects, and it’s the last two that seem to have generated more heat than light.

We really like the frontage of the restaurant – even though it’s not particularly old (dating from the mid 1920’s), and it’s not part of the original building.  So we hope that it can be preserved.  But preservation of the building as a whole could be difficult.  This is what it – and adjacent buildings – look like from behind.  It’s not easy to see how the restaurant, which is roughly in the middle of the photograph, could be successfully separated from its neighbours to allow them to be demolished.  Yet it’s unlikely that a good commercial case could be made to protect them as well.  Or are we wrong?  Perhaps some of those who championed preservation at the weekend could give us their thoughts.




6 thoughts on “The Old Thai House Restaurant

  1. Camberley is a “MishMash” of differing building styles. I had occasion the other week to go to Basingstoke. Cambeley stop procrastinating our competition is outstripping us and the temptation to go away from Cammberely to shop etc is getting stronger as our council continue to ” consider” our future. I for one did not elect my councillor to just talk. Our town needs more action.

    • Of course, there’s a downside to the recent hubbub about preserving the Thai restaurant. If a developer sees stormy waters ahead, they’ll be less keen about going forward. We could be stuck with decay and dereliction ‘for ever’.

  2. We need a bit of individuality in Camberley – perhaps they could strip out the best bits of the restaurant, then put them back into a complete rebuild.

    • That, Denise, is the ideal – and only – solution. Preserving things as they are will just mean more decay along that stretch of road, and the restaurant frontage, though it’s no more genuine than Disneyland, is very pleasant to look at, and well-worth preserving in some way.

  3. The frontage is very special, but if keeping it would hold up the ‘regeneration’ any longer, I feel it should all come down. As you mention, it would be a herculean task to preserve just that bit. Keep it until it is all going to be demolished – whenever that may be………….. Penny Skelton

    • I don’t know anything about the actual construction, but the frontage is certainly not original, so it might be possible to ‘remove’ it in some way, for installation elsewhere. There’s a mall in Southampton where pretty much the same thing has been done. But you’re right; regeneration has been a council top priority for years; carrying it out is overdue.

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