Brisley Bell rings in the changes as a pub with a community hub
The weather may have been pretty grisly but the newly opened pub in Brisley, near Dereham, offered a warm welcome as it celebrated the opening of its reading room and library.
The Bell, which had been closed for three years, has been completely renovated by Marcus Seaman and Amelia Nicholson and reopened to drinkers and diners two weeks ago.
A grant from Norfolk County Council and Pub is the Hub's programme of funding for rural pub's has enabled the couple to establish a cosy reading room and a library in the new extension.
The £1,500 grant bought shelves, seating and furnishings allowing it to be multi-functional, both as part of the restaurant and as a community space.
A social media appeal saw Brisley residents raid their own book collections to donate hard-back literature for the library and there are plans to start IT training.
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Terry Stork, from Pub is the Hub, said the scheme was aimed at helping pubs diversify to halt their decline.
'The latest figures suggest 25 pubs a week are closing,' he said. 'You have to do something else other than serve beer. We want pubs to survive and The Bell really has the wow factor. In all the hustle and bustle of today's noisy world it is lovely to think that the community can enjoy a quiet pint and a book in their village pub.'
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Miss Nicholson said they were grateful for the grant support as they carried out a lot of market research before starting work on the pub and were shocked to discover that only three percent of Norfolk's tourism was in Breckland.
'This area needs more support,' she said. 'If a business is doing well it will be employing more people so there should be some help to enable businesses to work together and support each other.'
County councillor Mark Kiddle-Morris, who presented The Bell with a commemorative plaque, said he remembered coming to the pub in the early 1980s when there was no bar but a little old lady would come out and ask what you wanted to drink.
The couple also have ambitious plans for a camping-glamping site and B&B accommodation later in the year.
To find out more about Pub is the Hub funding contact Terry Stork on 07789 275908 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.