Rescuing a pub from Oblivion

By Linda Simpson
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A pub closes down for the 3rd time in 4 years. The heart of a rural village gone forever?

Not where the villagers of Marsh Baldon and the surrounding areas were concerned. They decided to do something positive, formed a Business, the Baldons and Nuneham Courtenay Society Ltd (BANCS) and bought the Seven Stars pub. And at the end of March 2014 the Stars celebrates its first birthday under Community ownership and things could not have gone better!

But back to that grim day in late 2012. The pub had been purchased by a philanthropic local resident but had continued to incur losses to the point where he decided to close the doors. In stepped a small group of intrepid villagers….they rallied the rest of the village to get behind the Community model and with investments totalling some £160k, managed to raise a mortgage and buy the property for the Community.

Villagers had the opportunity to outline what they wanted from their local pub….a friendly atmosphere, good value pub food of excellent quality backed up by well kept Beers and Wines…and somewhere that everyone was welcome….villagers, outsiders, kids, dogs and horses!!

Key to that vision was finding the right Landlord and after a painstaking search Matt Ford took on the lease and the whole village chipped in to help with refurbishment. The the pub finally reopened its doors on the 30th March 2013.

And its hasn’t looked back since….Sunday lunches have been packed, the garden in the summer was full to overflowing and even in the depths of winter the pub has been teeming with people on weekday lunchtimes and evenings. “I am absolutely delighted with the way that the village has supported the pub”, said Matt, “They have been incredibly welcoming and we try to reciprocate that by giving them what they want – a friendly place to come and eat great quality food or just to have a quiet chat over a pint or a glass of wine”.

The pub is a true free house, which has given us scope to buy quality wines with some interesting variations on the usual house wines.  No Pinot Grigio or insipid Merlot that could be anything from anywhere (sadly found in so many pub co’s and brewery-owned pubs). We boldly put a Riesling from Chile on the wines by the glass list – it’s now one of the best sellers! The Morgon flies out and the Negroamaro from Puglia is an easy sell.

There is scope for ever changing guest beers from local breweries and we show wines from an ex villager, now making really cracking wines in Corbières.

So with a few determined volunteers and an enthusiastic group of villagers putting their money where there mouth is (from £300 – £20,000), you can have a refreshing glass of Gargenega and a fish pie in Marsh Baldon, Oxfordshire. Cheers!

For more information on the pub see www.sevenstarsonthegreen.co.uk or look for Seven Stars, Oxfordshire on TripAdvisor. For information on how the village created a vehicle to buy the pub see www.savethesevenstars.com.

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Comments

  1. Richard Bampfield

    May 5, 2015

    That’s wonderful, Linda, so pleased it is going well. Somehow it makes popping across the road to your local the noble thing to do! Do you fight it out with Charles Taylor to see who can propose the next wine selection??

  2. Profile photo of Andrea Warren

    Andrea Warren

    May 6, 2015

    What a great story. I may even make a detour to try it out when travelling nearby.

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