Britain’s first community pub celebrates anniversary

Thirty years on, shareholders and villagers stand outside their pub

Thirty years on, shareholders and villagers stand outside their pub - Credit: Archant

IN THE early 1980s, villagers were worried their beloved pub would be sold off to a developer.

A newspaper cutting from the opening of the pub

A newspaper cutting from the opening of the pub - Credit: Archant

But fast forward 30 years and The Red Lion in Preston is still going strong, after residents took the plunge and bought it themselves in 1983.

It became the country’s first community owned pub, with 160 current and former villagers now owning a share.

Many of them met up on Sunday to mark the anniversary, posing for a photo to mirror one hanging above the door of the pub taken when the pub first relaunched.

The new photo will also be displayed in the pub to mark how far the pub has come over the past three decades.

Director Mark Waters said: “There were lots of children pictured in the original photograph who were over here, now adults, for the latest photo with their kids, which was nice.”

And manager Ray Lambe added: “It was lovely, all people behind the pub standing in front of it.

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“We’re happy to feel part of the furniture here.”

The pub, located on The Green, was owned by Whitbread, which said it would be selling it to a steakhouse or restaurant.

Businessmen in the village grouped together to buy the pub, with 92 shareholders originally holding a stake.

Various people have managed it over the 30 years, with Mr Lambe and wife Jo currently behind the bar.

The pub has won various awards, including North Herts CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2012.

“Over the last 30 years the villagers, the pub managers and the board of directors have worked hard to ensure the The Red Lion maintains its position as the beating heart of the village and to ensure its survival,” said Mr Waters.

“With many pubs going under many village communities have attempted, with some success, to buy their village pub to maintain a community heart since we took the plunge 30 years ago.”