Joy as village pub re-opens after fire damage repairs
It is a village institution that has been going for hundreds of years, laid low by the most everyday object - a tumble dryer.
And now eight months after the faulty appliance forced the closure of the Queen’s Head in Foulsham, near Dereham, villagers are breathing a sigh of relief that their pub is back open for business.
Saon Kirk, landlord, said the blaze had been discovered by his daughter, Holly, 26, who was staying in the flat above the pub at the time.
Mr Kirk said: “I had the day off but my daughter was here as she was staying in the flat.
“She came downstairs to see smoke pouring out of the utility room. She ran upstairs to rescue the dogs from the flat and when she came back down the tumble dryer was a ball of flames.
“In that respect it was quite lucky that she had gone downstairs when she did - it might have been much worse.”
Mr Kirk said firefighters arrived quickly and stopped the blaze from spreading, but it still took months to get the pub back into shape.
He said: “We ended up having to replace the whole utility room.
“Even upstairs, where the fire didn’t reach, the heat had melted the smoke alarm.
“We had to have all of the flooring ripped up - it was a lot of work.”
Mr Kirk said the insurance company offered to replace the damaged bar, but he wanted to keep it as it was an original feature of the pub, so they had it restored.
He said the venue was now looking better than ever, and even featured a new pool room.
Mr Kirk said: “We are making it appealing to the younger people of the village - giving a younger vibe to it. And we’ve got a new chef, Steven Leader, and all our food - including the pasta, pizza and pies - is now homemade.
“We opened again for the first time at the weekend and it went down very well, especially the food.
“The village is really happy it’s open again.”
Mr Kirk said he had heard the Queen’s Head - Foulsham’s only pub - originally opened in 1625. He took over the venue about 18 months ago.
He said this year he was keen to keep improving the campsite at the back of the pub.
The Queen’s Head is in High Street, Foulsham, NR20 5AD.