500 people raise a glass to village pub
A CROWD of around 500 people gave a roaring welcome to the reopening of their village pub in North Cornwall, which has been closed for more than 15 months.
The Bullers Arms at Marhamchurch reopened its doors on Sunday lunchtime when former landlord Bill Kneebone pulled the first pint.
Mr Kneebone, who owned the Bullers Arms for 17 years from 1970 to 1987 when it was built up into a pub at the heart of the community, said people had waited 465 days for the re-opening and the large crowd was proof that it was a viable business.
Local couple James Caslake, 47, and Nikki Unger, 45, have bought the Bullers Arms and are still refurbishing it.
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Mr Caslake, an associate partner with auction firm Kivells, said: "The whole village turned out to welcome the reopening. We are delighted. I will be back at work tomorrow, but Nikki will be running it and I will be popping in in the evening for a pint. We are in the process of hiring a chef so food will be on the menu next month."
The first pint pulled was an ale brewed at Tintagel Brewery, which is run by John Heard, who grew up in Marhamchurch.
Mr Heard gave the new owners two barrels of beer to see the opening go with a swing. The first pint was handed to local farmer Mike Grylls, a regular customer in Mr Kneebone's days.
"If ever proof was needed that the locals needed their pub this is it," said Mr Kneebone.
He praised the new owners for the way they were redecorating the pub and the return of roaring log fires, and also thanked the people of Marhamchurch, the parish council and the conservation group for the way they had opposed plans to demolish parts of the pub and build houses on the site.
Villagers have been embroiled in a battle during the past year or so with the former owner, who wanted to retain the bar area as a small pub but develop the rest of the site for housing. His plans were turned down by members of Cornwall Council's east area planning committee in August.
Marhamchurch Parish Council, who opposed the development, said they were going to try and register the pub as a community asset which would restrict an owner's ability to develop it as anything else.
The new owners have refurbished the toilets, redecorated the bar and laid new carpets.