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Community which saved Acle pub is branching out to open village shop

PUBLISHED: 14:17 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 14:17 16 December 2014

Residents of Upton celebrate outside their community owned pub the White Horse.

Picture : Jeremy Durkin

Residents of Upton celebrate outside their community owned pub the White Horse. Picture : Jeremy Durkin

Jeremy Durkin

Norfolk’s first community-owned pub is branching out and opening a village shop.

Community pubs prove a hit

• The community takeover of the Kings Arms at Shouldham, near Downham Market, has been another success.

The pub opened in September, two years after it was closed down. Villagers and supporters from around the world raised £150,000 towards the cost of buying the pub, with grants from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Pub is the Hub and the Geoffrey Watling Charity covering the rest of the £225,000 needed for the freehold.

The EDP-backed Save Our Kings Arms campaign included quiz nights chaired by editor Nigel Pickover, and Stephen Fry tweeting his support to his 7m-plus Twitter followers. The pub now runs a cafe and plans to provide school dinners for the from January.

• The community of Rockland All Saints, Attleborough, joined forces to buy their local, the White Hart, in 2010. They formed a community-run limited company but later struck a deal with the owners who decided, in 2011, to keep the pub as their own.

The White Horse at Upton, near Acle, has won a £4,000 grant from a new community service support scheme organised by Pub is the Hub, which is in turn backed with £30,000 from Norfolk County Council.

The cash will be used to convert an old barn next to the pub into a community shop, cementing the White Horse’s reputation for being the 
beating heart of the Broads village.

Locals and villagers rallied when the pub closed, officially taking over in 2012.

Peter Crook, director of the White Horse, said: “When we took the pub into community ownership it was always our intention to open a shop.

“First we had to put the pub and restaurant on a sound financial basis which we’ve done.”

The pub and Upton and Fishley Parish Council conducted a survey of every house in the village and found an overwhelming 97pc supported a community shop, with 28 people volunteering to help when it opens.

In view of that, the parish council has invested £2,000 in the shop and agreed to make loan funding available.

“Since being acquired by the community the pub and restaurant now employs four full-time and 14 part-time staff,” said Mr Crook.

“It has become a real hub for the village with a weekly walking group, weekly quiz night, 
afternoon bingo, craft group, weekly live music, an annual beer festival, barbecues and various summer garden events.

“We are even having to turn custom away on occasions as demand for food is exceeding our restaurant capacity at peak times.

“The establishment of a shop is a natural extension to the 
business in a village where we once had two shops, a chapel, a school and three pubs – there is strong movement back to doing things at community level.”

Has your community worked together to save a local pub? Email reporter Lauren Rogers at lauren.rogers@archant.co.uk

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