A VILLAGE’S long fight to rescue its only pub has ended in victory after campaigners finally completed their purchase of the building.

A big renovation of the Crown in South Moreton will now begin in earnest after villagers got their hands on the pub, which they paid £390,000 for.

The future of the building has been uncertain since pints were last served there in 2015.

Earmarked to be demolished for housing, it was given a last-minute reprieve in September 2017 when it was listed as an ‘asset of community value’ following a court battle.

Since then campaigners, using the name the South Moreton Community Benefit Society, have scrambled to raise the funds to buy the pub and turn it into a community hub for their area.

Parish councillor and campaigner Tristram Kendall said: "It's been a three year battle for us and we've had so much community support along the way.

"To finally get it is amazing.

"There were a number of times when we doubted whether this day would ever come.

"There's been lots of ups and downs but we've persevered.

"It's a great triumph for community activism."

A combination of loans and an innovative ‘community share offer’ helped the group to reach their fundraising target, even when much-needed funding bids fell through.

Supporters each paid £50 per share with a minimum purchase of five shares in order to raise the cash quickly.

Now, as many volunteers as possible are needed to help get the pub - which has a leaky roof and plumbing problems - ready for business.

Mr Kendall added: "The community has really stepped up and helped us raise the money.

"But we need them again to get everything ready.

"We've had a team in over the weekend blitzing the building and preparing for a major refurbishment.

"We have big plans afoot - it's very exciting to see it all coming together."

Villagers hope to have the pub ready to open by the start of the new year.

In the coming months the roof will be replaced and insulation put in to make the building warmer and more homely.

A new cold room will be installed from scratch to keep ales at a better temperature, under advice from the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).

The pub will now be operated as a freehouse, meaning it is not tied to any one brewery and hopes to stock beers from a number of local suppliers.

Alongside the pub, the building will also operate as a café with other community facilities such as a shop, parcel drop-off and collection point and a bike hire and repair station.

The campaigners will soon be interviewing tenants to take on the day-to-day management.