Saving the Duke will create a vibrant social hub for Somersham, say campaigners

The Save the Duke campaign group in Somersham near Ipswich

The Save the Duke campaign group in Somersham near Ipswich - Credit: Archant

A crowd-funding campaign has been launched to save a much-loved pub in rural Suffolk.

The community in Somersham is working to save its local, The Duke of Marlborough, which closed at the end of last year.

But after a public meeting earlier this year established villagers wanted to fight to keep the pub alive they have taken it upon themselves to raise the cash to get it up and running again.

Now a share issue is to be launched before September 1 so supporters of the pub will have the funds to buy it in the future.

Local doctor Sarah Caston, who is leading the Save the Duke campaign, explained why it means so much to the community.

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“The Duke is a beautiful, historic pub; a central feature of village life,” she said.

“We want it to stay that way. Quite simply we refuse to accept that 500 years of local hospitality should come to an end.

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“The Duke of Marlborough is in many ways a national – as well as local – treasure.

“It symbolises all pubs that have been the lifeblood of communities for centuries but are now under threat of being turned into residential properties.

“When we raise our voices about the Duke, we’re raising them for all rural pubs at risk.”

With the pub now registered as an asset of community value and a community benefit society set up to save it, fundraising has begun in earnest.

There will be 7,000 shares of £50 each up for sale before the start of next month. A prospectus is being finalised for interested parties to view and the appeal will be launched via and on the Crowdfunder website.

“We’re convinced we can do it,” Dr Caston said. “There’s a compelling case for the business.

“All our research shows there will be extensive support for the newly reopened pub.

“People really want a vibrant social hub serving fresh food and quality drinks from the region.

“By offering an enticing menu, creating a great atmosphere and putting on the right events, custom will be attracted from far and wide.

“Our business plan has been scrutinised by experts across the industry and there’s real confidence in our proposals and ability to deliver.”

Once raised, the total £350,000 will be used to buy and renovate the pub. Each investor must hold a minimum of five shares and all money will be returned if the deal to buy the pub is unsuccessful.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter @helpsavetheduke and it also has a page on Facebook.

There will be a meeting at Somersham village hall on September 9 to discuss the share issue.

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