A Wellingborough village pub is set to reopen after volunteers rallied to help the new landlady get the hostelry ready for the first day of business since before the pandemic.
The much-loved Half Moon public house was the subject of a community campaign to bring the village facility back into use, with many residents pledging financial support to ensure its survival.
In April 2021 it was feared that the former Charles Wells pub could be lost after an application for the ‘erection of four flats and conversion of existing outbuilding to village shop and post office’ was made – but the application was withdrawn a month later.
Now the new owner Anne Hughes – a landlady with six years of experience in management – will welcome locals back to the Grade-II listed pub in Main Road with the promise of great beer, wines and spirits.
She said: “I’m so pleased I’ve taken on The Half Moon. I’m looking forward to opening and welcoming people back into this gorgeous pub as it’s been closed for such a long time.
“I’ve been in pub trade all my life but working evenings – I managed pubs from about six years ago. I found the pub on a pub lease site and then contacted the owner, then I visited the village and found it so friendly.”
Supported by ‘The Friends of the Half Moon’ village volunteers have been sprucing up the pub’s exterior ready for the reopening. Joining Anne behind the bar will be Jack, her pet dog.
Ms Hughes said: “I have had locals in every day to help clean, paint, tidy, and make curtains – they have been fantastic and the support is amazing .
“I lost my previous pub to developers in October and as soon as I walked in here I felt a sense of home.
“The villagers have been amazing in their support and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
“Fingers crossed we will open on Friday, December 10.”
Ms Hughes has built a reputation for turning pubs round and bringing a sense of community to help those in the area. In her previous pub, the The Railway Steamer in Shefford near Biggleswade, she sent out homemade roast dinners on Boxing Day and organised a Santa’s grotto.
“The pub shut throughout the national lockdown periods and did not re-open when lockdowns were eased. The brewery subsequently sold the pub and as a community we were concerned that it might not open again or be subject to redevelopment and change of use. Consequently, we formed a community group, The Friends, in February this year.
“Moving quickly, we applied to have the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value which was accepted in April.
“Our group’s aim has always been to keep the pub open as a thriving community asset, so to have Anne committed to the future of The Half Moon and bringing her considerable expertise and experience to the village, is fantastic. Like many, I’m excited that I don’t have too much longer to wait for my first pint in the pub for nearly two years.”
North Northants councillor and resident, Cllr Martin Griffiths, added: “Grendon is a very special place that desperately needs a village pub at the heart of its community..
“It’s great news. Once the pub is open people will descend on it.
“I am confident that the whole village and all the ‘Friends of the Half Moon’ will get behind the new owner, and make not only a vibrant community hub but also a must visit hostelry for the many thousands of walkers, cyclists, horse riders and families, who visit and enjoy this beautiful part of Northamptonshire. It’s got every chance of succeeding.”