Isham pub saved by community opens tomorrow
Volunteers who rallied to save Isham’s last pub will see their efforts pay off tomorrow (Friday) when it opens its doors again.
The Lilacs Inn in Church Street closed in January 2018 after a long period of uncertainty, leaving the village without any amenities after the closure of their shop and coffee shop.
But in a remarkable success story the village decided to fight back and restore not just a pub but a focal point and centre of the community.
The Friends of The Lilacs Inn, led by John and Heather Davis and Michele Mott, gained investments from local families totalling more than £400,000 to buy and refurbish the pub.
Since they signed the deal to buy the pub in August the site has been completely renovated and decorated both inside and out ahead of its opening at noon tomorrow.
Mr Davis said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the community including so many local business people.
“It has been a massive effort from everyone involved and we are all delighted to have our pub back.”
More than 70 volunteeers, known as “The Lilacs Bushwackers”, gave their time to restore the pub to its former glory with generous tradesmen providing services at hugely discounted rates.
The group estimates that the value of the discounted and free work comes to more than £70,000.
The pub has kept the original layout with some structural changes and updated features to make it a more welcoming environment.
As part of the renovation work the team discovered murals painted back in the 1960s caricaturing pub locals at the time.
These murals have been preserved and remain a fascinating window into the history of the pub and a time gone by.
The pub will be run by new landlord and landlady Peter Cruickshank and Katie Avery, who have 24 years and 16 years of experience in the pub trade respectively.
The live-in landlords will be familiar faces having previously run the now-closed Monk & Minstrel on the A509 through the village.
Peter said: “We have never started with a pub from scratch and the work the volunteers have done is amazing.
“It will be a learning curve but we want to make this a place for the community once more.”
The pub will have the ability to put on parties, functions and weddings and will sponsor local sports teams.
Peter, also a chef, says they will sell traditional pub food “in a relaxed setting but with an emphasis on great service”.
Katie added: “We’re really excited to get going.”
The pub is also looking forward to welcoming the Witchmen dancers back as well as car clubs.
Children and dogs are welcome at the pub which has a large car park.
Details of opening times and food and drinks menus can be found by phoning 01536 722348. There will be a website up and running shortly.