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Group raise half the funds to save village pub from redevelopment

PUBLISHED: 10:51 15 December 2017

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Pictured are committee members with (front right) Sara Mills. Picture: Ian Burt

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Pictured are committee members with (front right) Sara Mills. Picture: Ian Burt

More than half of the money needed to buy Beeston pub The Ploughshare has been raised by a village group, who are planning a new fundraising drive from 2018.

The Ploughshare, Beeston. Photo: Google Streetview The Ploughshare, Beeston. Photo: Google Streetview

Campaigners have been taking stock of their achievements 18 months after resolving to save the village’s last remaining pub

More than £150,000 has now been raised towards buying the building, which dates back to 1620, and re-opening the pub which closed its doors in early 2016.

The Ploughshare’s current owner is pursuing planning permission to build three houses on the historic village site. The latest application was rejected in August, but the pub’s beer garden has already been lost to housing.

Campaigners have acquired Asset of Community Value status for the building from Breckland Council, which puts restrictions on further development.

Beeston Community Enterprises was formed by a concerned group of villagers to raise money to buy and re-open the pub, along with a café, shop and other services for residents.

Last year’s share offer, where members of the public could buy a share of the pub for as little as £50, raised over £70,000.

The efforts of the committee have secured another £80,000 in funding from organisations including the Plunkett Foundation.

Members at the first annual general meeting in November made clear that support for the campaign is still strong. Another share offer will be launched in early spring 2018 to help raise the additional £150,000 required.

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt

Henry Dennett, chair of the committee, said: “Pubs offer a vital focus to rural village life and this is the last opportunity to save ours before it’s permanently lost.

“We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, but there’s still more to do. With community support, next year’s fundraiser will be the final push which allows us to buy and re-open the pub for the people of Beeston.”

Steve Hollis, management committee member, added: “This project is about bringing everyone together to do something amazing for Beeston residents, both current and future.

“We can only succeed if people get involved by buying shares or helping out with the campaign.”

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt

For more information on the Save the Ploughshare project or to offer support visit the website, or search @The_Ploughshare on social media.

A history of the Beeston Ploughshare

Beeston’s population of 566 is situated 2 miles off the A47 between Dereham and Swaffham.

Campaigners say residents are at risk of isolation, as the local shop closed several years ago and the closest services are at Litcham, 2-3 miles away.

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt

An alehouse has existed at the site of The Ploughshare on The Street in Beeston since 1585, when Elizabeth I was on the throne and Shakespeare was nine years old. Parts of the current building date back to 1620.

Jem Mace, considered by many to be the father of modern boxing, lived next door to The Ploughshare in the 19th C and fought bare knuckled bouts in what is now the car park.

Members of the US Airforce 392nd Bomb Group, stationed at nearby RAF Wendling, frequented the Ploughshare during World War Two. Thousands of aircrew operated from the base during the course of the war and would have made a huge impact on village life.

The ghost of one of the 747 airmen who lost their lives is even said to haunt the pub.

Picture of Norwich boxing legend Jem Mace (1831-1910) who used to box in The Ploughshare carpark. Photograph: c.8568, Archant Picture of Norwich boxing legend Jem Mace (1831-1910) who used to box in The Ploughshare carpark. Photograph: c.8568, Archant

Beeston boasts an award winning micro-brewery whose beers would feature prominently in a reopened Ploughshare.

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