Against a backdrop of pub closures – the latest CAMRA stats are 18 per week – the six year story of a local community coming together to purchase its pub is certainly heartwarming.

The pub, The Packhorse Inn, has a truly exceptional history. It has stood in the town of South Stoke in Somerset since the 15th century, with the current building erected in 1674, according to a stone above the door. It was even used to hide Catholic monks during the Reformation.

But it closed its doors in 2012 when the Grade II listed building was sold by Punch Taverns to property developers.
The local community was so devastated by the loss that it vowed to make it an asset of community value, buy it off the developers, and turn it back into a pub.

It has been a long journey, and the pub was first listed as an Asset of Community Value in February 2013. This weekend though a 87-year-old, Brian Perkins, poured the first pint at the Packhorse for six years. Brian was born in the pub and had his wedding reception there too - his family used to run the local.

The community raised a phenomenal £1,025,000 from 470 investors following a 2016 'Save The Packhorse' campaign – some paid as little as £50 each for a share in the pub.

Additionally, residents assisted with the refurbishment of the Packhorse in any way they could, from providing legal advice to craftspeople assisting with internal and external work.

The clean-up operation to get the pub back in business was itself an incredible achievement. Residents and volunteers from the village claim they spent around 1,000 hours renovating the pub garden, with 15 tons of earth moved - as well as 25 skips of waste from inside the pub.

The new landlord of the Inn, James Dixon, said that 'more should be done' to protect pubs such as the Packhorse from being purchased by developers.

He said it was a 'pub born from love' and was a 'fine example of what happens when a pub is adored' and is a central part of the community.