The Muzzle Loaders Association of Great Britain (MLAGB) formed in 1952 were one of the first victims of NRA CEO Andrew Mercer’s rent hikes. For years the MLAGB leased the distinctive red and white roofed Exhibition Hut in the centre of Bisley Camp and expended considerable effort to maintain it. Despite the rental income, the intrinsic benefit of the Club and the spending money of the many MLAGB users and visitors (including international shooters) NRA CEO Andrew Mercer had other ideas.
In another abrupt, bullying and ill thought through move Andrew Mercer had visions of kicking out the MLAGB and developing the building as a Visitors Centre. Mercer therefore told the MLAGB that their lease would not be renewed, instead offering them alternate premises at outrageous and unaffordable rent hikes. Sadly the MLAGB had no option but to vacate and leave the Camp on which they had played such a central role.
The NRA then put their men to work disregarding the fact that the building was Grade 2 listed. Surrey planning department investigated and put an immediate stop on the work as no planning had been granted. Mercer disregarded this and continued the work however was found out by the conservation officer. We understand there was a Court case and repercussions over this.
At the Bisley General Meeting Tuesday 23rd July 2019 Paul Cutts asks: “Can you tell this meeting Mr Mercer, how long the building has been empty as a clubhouse? Andrew Mercer: I think it’s been empty for 5 years. It was originally going to be the Visitor Centre. That didn’t come to pass”.
Planning approval is yet to be forthcoming and in light of previous experience Surrey planners are unlikely to look kindly on anything from the NRA. It is not clear what the eventual cost to Members will be to bring it back into listed condition. Most likely it will be simply left to decay away.