A year-long effort to resurrect the Lamarsh Lion pub has reached its goal, raising almost half a million pounds to bring it into community ownership.
The keys to the 700-year-old pub in Bures Road were handed over last week to The Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd, a local group which formed after the business closed last year and has since raised £495,000 in order to purchase the pub.
The previous owners shut the Lion in May 2016 after running it for ten years, and initially applied to convert the building into homes.
This was withdrawn after overwhelming opposition from local residents, who later banded together to raise the funds by offering shares to members of the community at £50 each.
Robert Erith, chairman of The Lamarsh Lion Community Pub Ltd, told the Free Press: “The people who owned it traded very successfully for ten years, but in the last two years, it had become very tired and they closed it down.
“It’s only a tiny village here of 180 people, so this has been very exciting. We had a great deal of support from the people of Sudbury.
“We want to make this something the community can be proud of.
“As well as being a community pub, we also want it to be a great destination pub for people who want to come here and have a good time.
“There have been some very generous shareholders. We have been very fortunate. It has really caught people’s imaginations.”
In total, about 300 shareholders contributed to the pub purchase effort, with people buying between one and 2,000 shares, while there was also support from the Plunkett Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps rural communities.
Mr Erith, who has lived in the area for more than 50 years, said there was now significant work to be done to get the Lion ready for its re-opening and ensure it met health and safety standards.
He added that a pub manager has not yet been appointed, but several people have so far expressed their interest, and he said they are still seeking shareholders, to help finance the upcoming renovations.
This is the second north Essex pub this summer to be revived as a result of a community purchase effort, following on from the King’s Head in Pebmarsh, which was similarly acquired after people bought about £350,000 in shares to obtain the business a year on from its closure.
To find out more about the Lamarsh Lion, or if you are interested in contributing, please go online and see www.lamarshlion.co.uk .