New landlord team gives a fresh lease of life to old inn
An historic Westcountry pub has been saved from closure after a campaign to keep it open reached New Zealand.
Villagers in Clyst Hydon have been celebrating victory following a month-long effort to keep the Five Bells Inn in business.
Residents in the Mid Devon village had feared the 16th-century thatched building would be sold and redeveloped as housing after the former owners retired.
More than 300 people – from as far away as Mexico and New Zealand – signed a petition to improve its fortunes, and a Facebook page gathered 168 supporters.
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Campaigners led by resident Clive Birch persuaded the management company to install a temporary team to keep the pub running.
Now Paul Parnell, owner and landlord of the Jack in the Green pub and restaurant at Rockbeare, near Exeter, has acquired the lease to run the Grade II-listed inn. It will reopen in the summer following an extensive refurbishment.
Mr Parnell said: "I've always known of the pub as an idyllic country local which enjoyed immense success in the early 2000s. But it is down to the extensive campaigning of the residents that I heard about its plight. Their committed support demonstrates the pub is still a viable business proposition with plenty of potential for growth."
The 500-year-old building has been the village local for more than 100 years.
Mr Birch said: "We are relieved at the news and more than delighted to learn that the award-winning team from the Jack in the Green will be the driving force.
"Country pubs are an intrinsic part of our British culture and play an important role in keeping village communities alive.
"The future of our local has been secured thanks to the Jack in the Green team and with our continued support, we anticipate the Five Bells Inn will not only redeem its past fame but surpass it."
While Mr Parnell will remain at Rockbeare, manager Chris Charles will have responsibility for the running and revival of the Five Bells Inn.
The Jack in the Green has received numerous accolades during its 20-year history. It was recently ranked 17th in the UK's 50 top Gastropubs for 2013.
Mr Parnell added: "The success of any business is always down to the integrity of the people responsible for driving it and we are both really excited about putting the Five Bells back on the map and giving local people a facility to be proud of again."