A TINY village is celebrating the return of its only pub after a four-year campaign to rescue it from the bulldozers.

Gleaming and still smelling of fresh paint, The Crown in South Moreton welcomed back members of the community who have worked tirelessly to save it on Saturday night.

Locally-based celebrity Ulrika Jonsson cut the ribbon to mark the occasion and villagers re-staged a famous Oxford Mail picture taken two years ago, when the pub being open again was a mere pipe-dream.

Oxford Mail:

Paul Jackson, the chairman of the group set up to rescue the building, said: “There were certainly days when I didn’t think it would ever happen.

“We’ve lived and breathed this for so long, to see if finally open is fantastic.

“If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that this village needs its pub. Without this place, we would have nothing – nowhere to meet, shop or socialise.

“This is so much more than a pub, it is a way of alleviating rural isolation and even before we opened, it has been doing this for people in the village.”

Oxford Mail:

Villagers raised money to buy the pub, after it had been earmarked for redevelopment, by encouraging people to sign up as shareholders and through a mixture of grants and loans.

Since September it has undergone a complete renovation which has seen the bar re-modelled, an internal pillar removed, the walls repainted and new furniture brought in.

In the extension at the back of the building, built 20 years ago by builders who still live in the village, an old carpet was pulled up to reveal a floor made from quarried Chinese stone which has now been restored.

Mr Jackson added: “We had one volunteer who worked six hours a day, six days a week, while others put in hundreds of hours behind the scenes to get all the paperwork and everything ready.

“We had 137 people sign up as shareholders when there’s only 110 houses in the village.

Oxford Mail:

“Now all those people are invested in making this work a way they never were before.

“They can come in and say 'I own those bricks' or 'I helped pay for that'.

“I think it changes the dynamic and it makes the pub come to life.”

The Crown will now be open as a cafe from 8am Monday to Friday and there are plans to add a community shop or sell local produce from behind the bar.

In the evenings the restaurant will open from 5pm until 10pm while on Saturday and Sunday food will be served from noon until 10pm.

Charlotte Waite has been appointed as the landlord and has taken on the day-to-day running of the place.

Oxford Mail:

A quiz night has been started on Mondays and darts teams have already moved in.

Food will be kept as affordable as possible, with a menu specialising in pub favourites.

Locally brewed beer is also being served from the bar, including the new batch of ‘Community Endeavour’, an IPA created specially.