A PUB torched by arsonists in South Oxford has been taken over by a businessman who is planning to reopen it by the end of the summer.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at the Berkshire House pub in Abingdon Road in March.

Following the fire, which damaged a large section of the interior, brewers Greene King said the building would remain closed for at least four months.

But the businessman who has taken over the White House pub in Botley Road, Oxford, has also bought the lease for the Berkshire House, which will have a £200,000 refit.

The entrpreneur, who is refusing to be named, said he planned to reopen the Berkshire House at about the same time as the White House — at the end of August, or early in September.

He said: “The Berkshire House is an excellent community pub and I am planning to reopen it as the Crooked Pot at the end of the summer.

“Work to refurbish the pub following the fire started two weeks ago and is now well under way.

“Craig Harris, who is well known in the area, will be appointed as manager, and the pub will have a sporty feel to it with satellite TV showing football.

“I’m hoping that the pub will be up and running as soon as possible. I’m also renovating a pub in Sandhurst and I want these pubs open because when they are closed they are not making any money.

“Both the Oxford pubs are free houses so we can bring in different guest ales and we aim to be competitive with our prices.”

Greene King spokesman Elaine Beckett said: “We’re very pleased work at the Berkshire House has commenced.”

She said the takeover deal was expected to be concluded in the next few weeks.

The kitchen was destroyed in the blaze, and three ground-floor rooms were badly damaged.

A new licensee had been due to sign papers to take over the pub on the day of the fire.

Firefighters said there was a clear indication the blaze was started deliberately.