Gretton fights back against rural closures

Gretton is using its community spirit to keep rural businesses alive and well despite tough trading conditions.

Friday, 30th March 2018, 6:00 am

A village pub that had looked set to become a house has been reopened as a local watering hole by a pub regular.

And a volunteer-run cafe has taken over services that were once provided by the village post office after the postmaster left.

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Peter McGowan bought his first ever alcoholic drink from the Blue Bell Inn in High Street as a teenager. Now, aged 51, he has become the pub’s newest landlord.

The pub had been set to be converted to a residential property after the previous landlady had problems selling it when her landlord husband died.

Peter, who was born in Corby and is the son of the former town mayor of the same name, said: “I’ve lived in Gretton for 11 years now and I love it.

“I knew the former landlord here, Jimmy, and he would be really pleased it’s going to stay a pub.

“Gretton’s a great village and with great people and I just thought to myself, let’s have a go at this.

“I’ve no real background in pubs as I have a successful electrical compliance company but I think it’s a really good pub and it could do well.

“After Easter we’ll be giving it a refurbishment and then we’ll hopefully make a good go of it.

“We really hope the people of Gretton will support us.”

Just down the road, Lydia’s Coffee Shop has stepped to offer a range of new services after the village post office shut down last September.

The coffee shop now stocks a range of food and household essentials as well as being a base for newspaper deliveries.

It will also be the venue for a mobile post office that will be run on Tuesday and Friday mornings. It will offer a full post office service.

Manager Miriam Pullinger said the shop had already proved to be a lifeline when the village was cut off during the recent snowy weather.

She added: “The post office was really the hub of the community.

“Getting newspapers was a key thing for people in the village so some volunteers are doing the delivery and they are stored here.

“We bought some of the old stock from Julie at the Post Office and decided to sell it. We’ve increased the range now. It’s a real lifeline for some of the older people or those who may not have transport.

“During the snow this became a real hub for people who were cut off. We took nearly three times as much as we normally do and people really appreciated us being open.”

Lydia’s has been open for ten and a half years and is run as a Christian not-for-profit organisation staffed mainly by volunteers.

Regular customer Halima Alexander said it will become even more vital later this year when the village’s bus service is stopped.

She said: “It’s great because we haven’t got a Post Office now so you can get extra bits and pieces when you need them.

“It’s vital, especially if you can’t drive.”