AN HISTORIC Oxfordshire pub under threat from closure could be bought out by the community after a bid for funding found success at the final hour.

The Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society rallied together after pub chain Brakspear put Beckley's Abingdon Arms Pub up for sale with an asking price of £440,000 earlier this year.

The group launched a funding campaign last month seeking share offers in order to raise the cash needed to put in a bid for the 300-year old pub, which inspired author Lewis Carroll.

Just one month after the funding campaign was launched, the society announced that by the November 1 deadline it had not only met its target but secured an extra £35,000 on top of its original goal.

On announcing the news that the society had raised £475,750 spokesperson Georgina Matthews said: “What a fantastic achievement.

“Thanks to all 220 of you who've invested we're now in a position to make our offer to buy The Abingdon Arms for the community.

“In fact we've already put our offer in to the agent.

“We hope you appreciate that we won't be giving a running commentary whilst discussions are ongoing, but rest assured that we'll let you know the outcome as soon as possible.

“The amount raised through the share offer shows that locals feel strongly about saving the 17th century pub for the community and maintaining a vital social hub.”

Chairman of the Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society Mike Hobbs said: “We have had a fantastic response to our share offer to save The Abingdon Arms for the community.

“It has been heart-warming to see so many people supporting our campaign. It has created a real sense of community cohesion.”

Supporters expressed their relief that the asking figure had been met on social media.

Charles Hunter Pease said: “All down to the hard work of a small and dedicated group of public spirited villagers. Well done.”

Sarah Foxcroft added: “Fantastic news.”

According to the society, investors pledged shares from as far afield as Canada, Australia and America, and also UK offers from Cornwall to Scotland.

The majority of the bids, however, were from five nearby villages - Beckley, Horton-Cum-Studley, Elsfield, Noke and Stanton St John.

The society said that if it is successful in its offer to Brakspear it wants to create ‘more than a pub’.

Services would include the running of a local shop for villagers selling basic goods, a bike repair service and a parcel collection service.

There are also plans for a local art gallery and music venue for the benefit of the whole community.