The keys to Duke of Marlborough in Somersham, Suffolk have finally been handed to campaigners who successfully fought to raise funds to reopen their beloved pub.
When the pub doors closed on Christmas Eve 2014, locals feared it would be lost forever. It took two years and a great deal of campaigning to raise the £300,000 needed to purchase the oak-beamed free house.
The Duke had been offering hospitality for well over 500 years’, Sarah Caston, local doctor and Save the Duke Campaign organiser said. ‘We just wanted that to continue. It’s a beautiful, rural, historic inn, treasured by the community – and with potential to offer something special to people from further afield. It was clearly worth fighting for.’
A committee of volunteers, headed initially by Caston and later by James Batchelor-Wylam worked tirelessly to re-open the doors of the Duke of Marlborough. It’s the second co-operative pub in Suffolk, the other being The Case is Altered.
‘We raised the money, we negotiated the purchase and now we have the keys,’ added Batchelor-Wylam. ‘That’s a massive milestone. This really is a huge achievement, made possible by the fantastic people who invested in shares – 230 of them so far, and numbers still rising.
‘Soon we’ll be celebrating with them – and offering the public recognition they deserve. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get the pub open. The place has been closed for 26 months. The cellar needs re-fitting, the rooms need a lick of paint and the outside needs some TLC.’
The search is now on to find the right people to run it. Anyone interested should contact the pub or get themselves down to the community viewing on Sunday 19 March, or for more information, visit savetheduke.net.