Banff residents are fighting to save a pub featured in legendary Scottish film Local Hero from being turned into flats.
The Ship Inn was used for several scenes in the heartwarming 1983 movie, while the nearby Pennan Inn was more famously shown in exterior shots.
It’s a connection the C-listed pub remained proud of for decades.
Director Bill Forsyth returned there to mark the movie’s 25th anniversary, being interviewed by BBC film critic Mark Kermode in the cosy, wood-panelled bar.
And the stars of a 2019 stage adaptation popped in for a drink as they prepared to launch the production.
But the inn has grown quiet in recent years, and it’s understood it has never reopened under eased Covid guidelines.
Boat-shaped bar would be wrecked
Owner George Wood is now asking Aberdeenshire Council for permission to obliterate the pub to create two flats.
Under the blueprints, the venue’s famous boat-shaped bar will be dismantled to make room for a hallway.
The lounge bar would be replaced with one flat, with its toilets transformed into a bedroom while another gents would become a kitchen.
Scroll back and forth to see the changes for yourself –
‘An awful loss’
The late 18th century building was listed in 1972 and has been a pub for decades.
Banff residents are urging the local authority to knock back the application, arguing that the small piece of cinema history should be preserved.
Antique shop owner Rachel Kennedy is a member of the Banffshire Business Forum and would like to see the venue revived as a community-owned pub.
She said: “I feel very strongly that its closure would be a huge loss to the town, especially with its association with the movie Local Hero.
“I know that the current owners have had success contacting the actors involved in the film through social media, and this has resulted in Banff becoming famous for its association.
“I refer also to the scenes filmed inside the pub with its (now famous) boat shaped bar
– to lose this structure in of itself would be an awful loss.
“I believe that there has been a pub on this site for at least 50 years and that it can
be a successful business once more.
“I am aware that there are parties interested in investing in local businesses and even considering taking The Ship on as a community-run pub.
“I would be interested in getting involved to see if this was possible.”
Fellow Banff resident, Jay Wilson, argued that there was local demand for a “well-run pub”.
She also stressed “the obvious tourist attraction of the pub as a film location for the very popular Bill Forsyth film Local Hero”.
Pub could rise again
George Howie, pub campaigns co-ordinator for the Aberdeen, Grampian and Northern Isles Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale group, is also objecting.
He said: “Conversion to flats would mean a loss of heritage for the future.
“It’s part of the local community, and its conversion would mean the loss of opportunities to socialise and connect.
“The pub has been a thriving business in the past, and there’s no reason to think it could not be so again in future, especially once Covid restrictions are eventually removed.”
Insch resident Matthew Mace added: “The building is listed and historically important.
“As a public house it would retain that heritage for the future. Once converted it would be lost forever.”
Local Hero is about a small coastal community that faces being wiped out to make way for an oil refinery.
The American oil company representative sent to purchase the village soon falls in love with the picturesque spot and its colourful characters.
Director Forsyth visited the Ship Inn in 2008 to mark the 25th anniversry of Local Hero –
The production company completely renovated the inside of the pub ahead of filming.
The pub has played host to many Local Hero fans over the years, desperate to recreate their favourite scenes and have a go behind the bar.
Speaking in 2019, Mr Wood’s partner Margaretann Johnston said: “A lot of people have visited over the years and they want to quote the ‘I’d make a good Gordon, Gordon’ line and get their photo taken behind the bar, which of course we let them do.”
Mr Wood and Ms Johnston both declined to comment on the proposals.