RESIDENTS are campaigning to stop one of Aldershot's oldest buildings being demolished to make way for a block of flats.

They say it would be disgraceful to bulldoze the Haig Road oast house which is one of the town's few remaining links with its pre-army days.

The protesters are calling on Rushmoor Council to protect the 141-year-old structure by listing it as an historic building.

They have formed an action committee to oppose the planning application to replace the oast house and other buildings with a block of eight flats.

Spokesman Wayne Herbert, who lives next to the oast house, said: "People around here don't want it pulled down.

"This is part of the town's history, going back to before the army arrived, and once it is demolished it's gone forever."

He would have no objection to the oast house being converted into a home, should the council agree to preserve it.

The building, which had its coned roof replaced with a more conventional style some time ago, stands on the former Park Farm site.

It is one of only three oast houses remaining in the town. The other two, in Newport Road and Oast Lane, form part of a row of terraced homes.

All three are a reminder of the days when Aldershot was a village, and hop growing was a major feature of the surrounding countryside.

The oast houses were used as kilns to dry out the hops which were then transported to breweries in the county.

Mr Herbert, a 31-year-old aircraft engineer, and the rest of the action group hope that others will support their campaign to save the oast house.

The protesters have already won the backing of Aldershot Civic Society which has lodged an objection with the council planners.

In its seven-point protest, the society claims that, because of its small size, the oast house is a more important example of historic interest than the other two.

It calls on the planners to be consistent and to refuse to let the building be demolished.