Village pub reopens for the first time in four years

Alex Begg (right) and Leigh Howard at The White Swan in Gressenhall

Alex Begg, (right), chairman of Gressenhall Community Enterprise, with committee member Leigh Howard at The White Swan in Gressenhall - Credit: Denise Bradley

A village pub which was saved from being transformed into housing has reopened for the first time in four years. 

The White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham, began welcoming punters again from 4pm on Thursday (May 26). 

Villagers at the reopening of The White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham

Villagers at the reopening of The White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham - Credit: Sarah Darnell

The pub was successfully acquired in 2020 by Gressenhall Community Enterprise (GCE), which had launched an ambitious effort to prevent it from being turned into housing.

GCE raised £260,000 in community shares and received a £100,000 grant from the Plunkett Foundation to get the purchase over the line.

Having picked up the keys in January last year, volunteers embarked on a complete restoration of the interior, exterior, beer garden and an old cart shed to the rear.

Chris Simpson, general manager, ready for the reopening of The White Swan in Gressenhall

Chris Simpson, general manager, ready for the reopening of The White Swan in Gressenhall - Credit: Denise Bradley

And, from Thursday afternoon, pints were finally flowing again as villagers and members of GCE reaped the rewards of their tireless efforts. 

Alex Begg, chairman of the group, said: "The volunteers and everybody involved have kept busy right up until the last minute. 

"There haven't been too many nerves because I'm really sure we've got things right. We truly have the most fantastic suppliers and management, and our volunteers and local community have been behind us from the very start. 

The White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham, has reopened for the first time in four years

The White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham, has reopened for the first time in four years - Credit: Denise Bradley

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"We have gone through a lot together and I think now is the time to enjoy the fruits of an awful lot of hard work. It has been an amazingly long journey.

"I'm sure, for many years to come, we'll be able to look back with a lot of pride at what the village and the local area have achieved through commitment and dedication."

Contractors and volunteers working on The White Swan have pretty much started from scratch on its redevelopment. 

The beer garden and old cart shed at the reopened White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham

The beer garden and old cart shed at the reopened White Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham - Credit: Denise Bradley

That means fresh plastering, plumbing and electrics, in addition to impressive flagstone flooring, while a pair of carpenters have restored the old bar with a beautiful oak top. 

Bi-folding doors have been installed in the cart shed, which also has a pizza oven and is being billed as an ideal space for larger groups. 

"You can expect a warm welcome, great service and some fantastic local drinks," added Mr Begg.

"It has been carefully restored to have all the charm and attraction of a classic Norfolk pub, and hopefully people will recognise that."

The White Swan in Gressenhall being officially reopened

The White Swan in Gressenhall being officially reopened - Credit: Sarah Darnell

The sign at the newly revamped White Swan at Gressenhall.

The sign at the newly revamped White Swan at Gressenhall. - Credit: Denise Bradley