Work starts to bring derelict Norfolk pub back to life
PUBLISHED: 16:16 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 10 February 2019
Villagers have rolled up their sleeves and started pitching in to help breathe new life into their local pub, which has sat dormant for the past three years.
And organisers said they were thrilled around 25 people had turned out for the weekend of work at the 16th Century Ploughshare in Beeston, near Dereham, after Beeston Community Enterprises (BCE), a company set up by residents, bought it on January 31.
Geoff Sorell, BCE secretary, said there was a lot of work to be done as the pub had been vandalised twice since it shut in 2016.
Mr Sorell said the pub would be staff by employees and community volunteers, and they hoped to have it open again in April, with extra facilities.
“We’re going to put a cafe in there and a small shop,” he said. “It’s the central hub of the village.”
Mr Sorell said the pub’s interior would celebrate three links to Beeston’s past: Jem Mace, the legendary boxer who grew up in the village; its role as a watering hole for US aviators from a nearby Second World War airbase; and its agricultural heritage - the pub is named after the main cutting blade of a plough.
He said: “This was all church land and the tithe was a ploughshare, so all the farmers had to give a ploughshare to the church.”
It follows a spirited fundraising effort that netted £250,000, including £105,000 given by village residents.
Among those leading the refurbishment are project managers Andy Mansell, Kim Wheeler and Anita Mansell, as well as Campbell Mackellar and company chairman Henry Dennett.
And among those looking forward to the reopening are Wayne Ward, 61, and Bill White, 91.
Mr Ward grew up living in the pub when his parents, Don and Betty Ward, ran it, and he remembers when its patrons drank their way through 144 dozen bottles of beer each week. “Everyone used to come in here,” he said. “We had three darts teams, pool teams, cribbage, dominoes, lots of things.”
Mr White had been coming to the pub for 20 years before it shut. “Every Wednesday evening and Friday night with the gang as well, we always came for meal. I only live 50 yards away which is great.”