Campaigners hope to re-open Norfolk village pub by January

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Pictu

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

Campaigners fighting to save a 16th century village pub hope to have the venue open early in the new year.

Boxing legend Jem Mace (1831-1910). Date not known.

Boxing legend Jem Mace (1831-1910). Date not known. - Credit: Archant

After a two-and-a-half year battle, those bidding to save The Ploughshare at Beeston, between Dereham and Fakenham, believe they are now on the home straight.

The pub has links to legendary former boxing world champion Jem Mace and was popular with American soldiers during the Second World War.

It closed in January, 2016 and Beeston Community Enterprises Ltd (BCE), made up of local residents and supporters from further afield, was formed in March of that year amid fears the pub would be sold to housing developers.

They have since raised £170,000 towards buying the pub from selling shares and securing grants, loans and donations.

They also fought off three planning applications.

In September this year a planning appeal was dismissed and the owner agreed to sell the pub.

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BCE has now launched a new share offer and is aiming to raise a further £100,000, minimum, and targeting £130,000 which will allow them to buy the pub and have enough working capital to reopen it with a shop and cafe.

Henry Dennett, chairman of BCE, said: 'We want to move quickly and raise the money we need by the end of the year and have the pub open again in January.

'It's incredible what's been achieved and we've had a great deal of support locally and from other parts of the country.

'We've always been confident we can make this happen.

'It's true that some pubs are struggling but we believe, with the right people running it, we can make it a success.

'We see many successful, well-run pubs throughout the county.'

The Ploughshare is located next to the one-time home of legendary 19th century boxing world champion Jem Mace, who is credited with revolutionising his sport. He used to organise boxing contests in the pub's car park.

The pub was also the regular watering hole for airmen from the American Airforce 392nd Bombardment Group during the Second World War and is rumoured to be haunted.

For more about how you can buy shares and support the campaign, visit