'You've got to take a risk' - New owner invests thousands in pub revamp

The White Horse at South Lopham has reopened under new management. 

The White Horse at South Lopham has reopened under new management. - Credit: James Neale

The new landlord at a village pub in Norfolk has said he took a risk which paid off having invested £10,000 refurbishing the beloved site. 

Businessman James Neale was handed the keys to the White Horse at South Lopham in October - just as the country was plunged into a national lockdown. 

Since then around £10,000 has been invested into the venue near Diss - but the risk was worth taking with bookings streaming in up until New Year's Eve and beyond. 

"There were a couple of times when I looked at the pub and was a bit nervous about what we were doing.

Inside the newly refurbished White Horse at South Lopham

Inside the newly refurbished White Horse at South Lopham - Credit: James Neale

"We invested most of the money into the kitchen because we thought the equipment might be in better shape than it was. Because it hadn't been used since March however quite a lot of it wouldn't switch on," he said. 

"Because of lockdown I was able to do quite a lot of the work myself - the decorating and painting and so on.

"I own a beauty salon in Norwich and my main business is a wedding and corporate photography agency - both of which were quieter during lockdown - so I had the time to do it myself. 

James Neale

James Neale has taken on the lease at the White Horse in South Lopham - Credit: James Neale

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"I'm used to working six and seven day weeks so I was a bit bored and wanted to take on a new challenge.

"It's been extremely busy since we opened last week - some of the locals are already on their third trip which is brilliant to see."

The White Horse is serving classic pub-style food "done well". 

Mr Neale has hired eight members of staff but says he hopes to up this to between 18 and 20 during the summer months. 

The White Horse sells "proper pub food done well"

The White Horse sells "proper pub food done well" - Credit: James Neale

"We've got a massive beer garden so hopefully when we move down a tier and the weather warms up I'll be able to hire some more staff and a full-time manager to run the place. 

"It's really great to be able to get the pub back up and running. We've had a really great response so far with bookings for Christmas eve and New Year's Eve coming in, so I'm looking forward to seeing what's to come." 

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