Marston and Houghton villagers celebrate the re-opening of the pub they bought and campaigned to save
Villagers just north of Grantham have been celebrating the re-opening of their ‘local.’
The Thorold in Marston, will open to the public tomorrow (Saturday) at 11am, following a private opening to supporters and shareholders last night (Thursday).
Cutting the ribbon tomorrow morning will be the chairman of the village Women's Institute and long-time village resident Sybil Howard.
The re-opening follows more than four years of campaigning and fundraising by Marston and Houghton residents to buy and re-open the former Thorold Arms, which closed in July 2015.
More than £250,000 has been spent renovating the premises in the village high street, which will feature a cafe, shop and B&B.
Treasurer of the Thorold Arms Community Benefit Society, Sandra Allen, said last night: “I am absolutely over the moon. It’s been a lot of hard work over the years.”
Villagers fought to gain Asset of Community Value status for the pub, which was granted four years ago. They also spent three years trying to buy the property from its former owner, who wanted to convert the pub into a home.
In addition to the pub, there will also be a cafe and soon after, a shop, post office and B&B.
The cafe will open from Saturday afternoon and the pub will start serving food on Sunday.
“When the shop is coming, we will extend the opening hours for the cafe as well. It may be the New Year before we can do that but it won’t be long.”
Despite the many, many hours, the villagers have spent on resurrecting the pub, Sandra added it has “all been worth it, absolutely”.
“People are so excited. They can finally say ‘I am going to the pub.’”
Society committee member Tim Found added: “We are just thrilled that we have got so far. We are incredibly grateful for the help in getting to this stage.”
The Thorold will be run by managing couple Gary and Seona Loveman.
Gary will work front of house and Seona will be in the kitchen as head chef.
The couple have spent the past 4-5 years running a large pun in Cardigan Bay, Wales, on the seafront. But felt after working at a seasonal venue, it was time to be part of a community, where trade will be more consistent.
Seona grew up in the country, in Oxford and Sussex and was once a riding instructor.
Gary once worked in the timber trade, is well travelled and loves golf. He also enjoys being front of house, doing bar work and meeting and greeting customers.
Seona says the couple chose the pub for its ‘community connections’, being in the country but also having easy access to London, where they have grown-up adult children.
She said: “The community have set out what they wanted to do with it. We have ideas and we put them into the pub. There’s a lot to come. We have the shop , the private dining area, the B&B.
“The shop will open at 8am. This place is going to be steaming at this rate for 16 hours a Seona continued: “I think the committee has done an incredible job. Sandra and Tim they have really persevered when so many people will have run out of energy.”
The pub presently has Batemans ales but as a ‘freehouse’, will be able to stock beers from other breweries, which it will.
Seona added: “Community is paramount. I hope that many people realise how vulnerable places really are.”
Village resident Clare Pullinger said of the Thorold: “It’s a phoenix that has risen from the ashes.It’s just wonderful we have a functioning pub again. It’s wonderful it’s open in time for Christmas and we hope it will be supported. A pub isn’t just for Christmas, it’s forever.”
Former Grantham area Campaign for Real Ale chairman Neville Lomas agreed.
“I am just so pleased that it has re-opened after been closed for such a long time. The Thorold deserves support considering the work that has gone into the application and the development of it.
Neville added: “The pub is the centre of the community and therefore needs to be supported.
It’s a community hub. Given the number of years the village has been without a pub, the locals would be unwise not to use it.”