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Last Updated: Friday, 9 May, 2003, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Invasion pub signs ordered down
The Royal Oak
The Royal Oak pub was the scene of the French surrender

The pub which witnessed the surrender of the last army to invade Britain has been told to take down pictures commemorating the event.

Pembrokeshire Council says the boards depicting the events surrounding the 1797 invasion at Fishguard are out of keeping with the Royal Oak, a listed building in the centre of the port town.

The French soldiers were tricked into believing there was an army waiting for them by Jemima Nicholas whose traditional Welsh costume was mistaken for an army uniform.

The French negotiated their surrender at the Royal Oak and the desk on which the document was signed is still on display in the pub.

Its landlord Paul Johnson commissioned the three pictures which now hang outside the pub to commemorate the surrender.

Pub landlord Paul Johnson
Landlord Paul Johnson has no plans to take the pictures down

But officers from the county council have now asked him to take them down.

"We put the signs up outside at the beginning of February just to attract more people into town and tell people what the town is about," said Mr Johnson.

"First thing the following day we had the council there taking pictures and later in the week had an interview.

"They told us to take them down and when we asked why they said they were advertising boards and out of character with the pub itself which is obviously a listed building.

"We put them up for two reasons - one was to make the profile of the building stand out in the town.

"The second was because a lot of people come into town and don't actually know what happened in Fishguard 200 odd years ago.

"I have got the full support of the locals, as far as I'm aware, and have definitely had no complaints.

One of the offending signs
One of the signs Pembrokeshire Council wants taken down

"All we ever see outside is people standing reading the signs and taking pictures.

"Local people say how nice it is to see a public house advertising what happened all those years ago.

"The whole of the area is suffering from a lack of jobs and tourism and the more people we can drag into the area the better."

Mr Johnson said he had no immediate plans to take the pictures down.

But a spokesman for the county council said the Royal Oak was a listed building and planning permission was needed for the pictures.

A huge tapestry marking the invasion was created in 1997 to mark the 200th anniversary of the event and displayed for a time in the town hall opposite the pub.

But the tapestry is currently in storage while efforts are made to find it a permanent home.

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