Pebmarsh to revive Kings Head pub after bringing it into community ownership

Friends of the Kings Head in Pebmarsh celebrate their successful acquisition of the pub on behalf of the community. Photo by Roger Cuthbert.
Friends of the Kings Head in Pebmarsh celebrate their successful acquisition of the pub on behalf of the community. Photo by Roger Cuthbert.

Friends of the Kings Head in Pebmarsh say they could not have dreamed they would be able to bring the pub into community ownership, less than a year after it closed.

The future of the business appeared uncertain after it ceased trading and was put up for sale following the retirement of its previous landlords in September.

But the pub’s fortunes experienced a remarkable turnaround when a Friends group was formed with the aim of reopening it. In the space of three months, the community responded by purchasing £275,000 in shares.

The group obtained the keys to the pub on Thursday and will now carry out repairs to prepare for a ‘soft launch’ in August, under the tenancy of Debbie and Stuart Fraser, who also run the Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures.

Peter Hele, of the Friends of the Kings Head, told the Free Press: “It’s fantastic news and it’s a testament to the local community here in the Pebmarsh area.

“When the pub closed, we never dreamed we would be in a position to buy it and then reopen it in 11 months.

“I think it’s the fastest turnaround of any of these pub buy-outs in the UK.

“It’s astounding. You just realise how much the community values the asset of a local pub.”

In total, the Kings Head gained more than 320 shareholders, including several former village residents now living as far away as the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Some bought single shares at £50 each, while others pledged thousands of pounds.

The effort also received funding from More Than a Pub, the community pub support programme launched in 2016 by the Plunkett Foundation and funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the independent trust Power To Change.

Nicole Hamilton, project manager for More Than a Pub, said: “We are delighted to have supported this group to acquire their local pub through the programme and enable them to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to meet the needs currently being faced by their local community.”

Jenny Sansom, of Power To Change, added: “There is amazing community spirit on display here.

“By making sure pubs host groups and charitable events, people are keeping their local pub open and offering much more than a good pint.”

The Friends of the Kings Head are continuing to seek donations to help them meet the £300,000 associated costs in acquiring and renovating the pub, and staging community events.

For additional information, go online to www.fotkh.pebmarsh.com