Village pub set to re-open after community group steps in with offer

Directors stand outside The Royal Oak pub, in Hail Weston.

Directors stand outside The Royal Oak pub, in Hail Weston. - Credit: Archant

A village pub that has been closed for more than five years is finally set to re-open again after being purchased by a group of residents.

The freehold to The Royal Oak, in High Street, Hail Weston, has been bought by the Hail Weston Pub Company, a limited company made up of eight directors, all of whom live in the area.

Funds for the purchase were raised by the directors, with the backing of the 150-strong Hail Weston Community Pub Society, Huntingdonshire district councillor Jonathan Gray, and the village’s parish council.

The pub has sat empty since 2012, shortly after it was sold by brewer Charles Wells to private buyer Andy Vidler.

Mr Vidler put the property up for auction but, in 2013, using Government legislation, the parish council had the building listed as a community asset, thereby safeguarding it from development with-out first giving villagers a chance to acquire it.

After years spent raising the required funds and reaching an agreement over sale price, the company was able to strike a deal with the owner and formally took ownership of the 18th century pub on February 1.

Reuben Milne, a director of the Hail Weston Pub Company, told The Hunts Post: “What’s wonderful about the project is the huge amounts of goodwill in the village and the surrounding area for having a pub. There is a lot of enthusiasm for it and people really want to make it work.

Most Read

“We will be marketing and promoting it heavily and really making use of the space. We want it to be at the centre of the community.”

Mr Milne said no date had been set for the re-opening but it was hoped that the

first pints would be pulled at the Grade II-listed pub in the spring, after refurbishment works had taken place.

Mr Milne said he hoped the Royal Oak would serve as a venue for a number of village groups and would be family friendly, too.

He added: “We’ve done quite a lot of research and planning and we hope to be able to refurbish the inside and outside and create a lot more space. We’ve already had people offering services and volunteering to come and help.”