Somersham’s Duke of Marlborough pub set to reopen after campaigners raise £300,000 to buy it
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Campaigners are today making a toast to community spirit and tasting a hard-earned sip of success as their dream of saving a village pub becomes a reality.
The doors of the 500-year-old Duke of Marlborough in Somersham closed two years ago as the previous owners, who had run the pub for 15 years, retired.
In a bid to prevent the pub being de-licensed and turned into housing, like many others across the country, Dr Sarah Caston started a movement to ‘Save the Duke’.
A Crowdfunder page was launched and hundreds of people bought shares in the pub, helping to raise the £300,000 needed to buy the Grade II listed building.
These shareholders, who are mostly from Suffolk but include support from further afield, will each own a part of the pub, which will be the property of the Somersham Community Pub Ltd.James Batchelor-Wylam, chairman of the Save the Duke Committee, said: “What at some points has felt like a pipedream is now close to coming true. The Duke of Marlborough should soon be owned by the community, and, even more importantly, open to all.
“There’s lots of hard work ahead of us, but it finally feels like we’ve crossed the biggest hurdle.”
The group gathered just enough cash to put an offer on the pub – which was accepted – but more is still needed to get the pints flowing.
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Dr Caston is calling for more shareholders to invest in The Duke, which is the last remaining pub in Somersham. She added: “It has been a long haul to get to this point – but we’re now nearly there.
“It’s true that it’ll be by the skin of our teeth, and that we’ll need more funds to get the pub up and running. But now it’s so nearly a reality, more people are saying they want to join in and buy shares. They are all welcome, wherever they live and however often they’ll be able to use it.
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“Anyone investing will be helping to save a beautiful 500-year-old village pub for this generation – and the next – and should feel proud of their contribution to the social and economic life of a rural community.”
Stephen Wright, deputy chairman of the Save the Duke Committee, said the hope was to have the deal complete by early December.
“That way we could at least have a celebratory party before Christmas, even if we can’t get it going on a regular basis until the New Year,” he added. “And it really will feel as though it’s something worth celebrating.”
Once open the pub will be run by voluntary workers until it starts bringing in enough income to pay staff.
For more information visit the Save the Duke website