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Cheers! Villagers get their local back as Garboldisham pub reopens

PUBLISHED: 10:38 03 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:38 03 December 2016

The Fox Inn at Garboldisham has been reopened as a micro-pub by the Garboldisham Fox Community Interest Company. Pictures by Bethany Whymark

The Fox Inn at Garboldisham has been reopened as a micro-pub by the Garboldisham Fox Community Interest Company. Pictures by Bethany Whymark

Archant

For residents of a Norfolk village, their Friday night trip to the pub was a particularly special occasion.

The fight to reopen the Fox Inn

The fight to restore the Fox Inn began almost 10 years ago.

The 250-year-old building was owned by the Wellington Pub Company when its last pint was poured in February 2007.

Since then various bids to redevelop the site off the A1066 and applications for change of use have been rejected.

But members of the Fox Committee decided they were not ready to see their pub disappear.

The Fox Inn was listed as an Asset of Community Value in 2014. In January this year a six month moratorium was triggered, meaning the Fox Committee had until June 1 to put in a bid to purchase it.

After a three-week fundraising campaign, which saw more than £180,000 raised, the committee entered a bid which was accepted.

The next step for the committee, now registered as the Garboldisham Fox Community Interest Company, will be to refurbish the pub, which it is estimated could cost £300,000.

Almost 10 years after its last pint was poured, the Fox Inn in Garboldisham reopened its doors to a crowd of happy drinkers.

Its reincarnation is the work of the Garboldisham Fox Community Interest Company (CIC), which was at the forefront of a hard-fought campaign to purchase the pub off the A1066 and save it from redevelopment.

With help from volunteers, the group has refurbished part of the 250-year-old building and opened it as a micro pub. Its bar serve a selection of real ales from local breweries Hoxne and Adnams, and its cosy front room is fitted with a woodburner.

Peter Smith, chairman of the Garboldisham Fox CIC, said: “It is wonderful. I love the way the whole village has come together.

“I have had so many volunteer mornings – people just turn up, I point them to a job and it gets done. The range of skills we have in the village is amazing. It is coming on really well and I am really pleased.

“A lot of the people have just come to help because they want their pub back.

“Now the village owns it we can love it properly, as it has not been for the last 30 years. We are determined that we are going to do it properly.”

Mr Smith’s wife Lynne, who joined him serving behind the bar, said: “I have never poured a pint in my life, but everything is going well so far. We are learning as we go along.

“Peter has had so much support from people offering their services for nothing or mates’ rates, everyone who was able to do something and even some people who could not.

“It has certainly got a lovely atmosphere so far but we are hoping to get the front room done before Christmas and get another fire put in.

“I think people have been waiting for this for so long, and so far the feedback has been terrific.”

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn took the opportunity to pop into his refurbished local.

He said: “We thought it was brilliant. It was so good to see so many people from the village there to support it. The fact that so many people came along and that it had brought so many people together for the restoration is excellent – so many people have come out to help to bring it back to life.

“It is only the first stage in a long journey but it has got a lot of support behind it and I am sure that the council will do everything we can to assist that.”

There are plans to install a pool table and dart board in the micro pub, with the hope of establishing pub teams in the future.

The Grade II listed building will need to be extensively restored before it can fully reopen, a project with the CIC estimates will cost around £300,000 and take two years.

Has your town or village helped to save a community asset? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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