‘Whole village arrives’ for reopening of Knebworth’s Station pub
PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:50 18 February 2020
A village pub which had been closed for three years and at the centre of a staunch campaign to save its future was packed to the rafters when it finally reopened on Friday.
The Station pub in Knebworth closed in February 2017 and was bought by a developer with plans to build flats right next to it.
The developer said the plans included reopening the pub in Station Approach, but campaign group Save Our Station Pub felt the close proximity of the development made it unviable.
While North Herts District Council refused the planning application - citing poor design and layout - a subsequent appeal was upheld by the Planning Inspectorate and planning permission was granted.
The land is still earmarked for flats but - with a low interest long-term loan from central government - Knebworth Parish Council bought the pub building when it went on sale last March.
It has been completely refurbished, and couple Becky and Lloyd Willis have been given the tenancy.
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Opening night on Friday, Valentine's Day, saw the pub filled with laughter and chatter for the first time in three years.
Becky said: "It went really well. We had such a big turnout - I think the whole village arrived! The atmosphere was great and we had a lot of positive comments. We are so happy."
Becky and Lloyd have lived in Knebworth for 12 years and have three children, who attend Knebworth Primary School.
"All our working lives Lloyd and I have been in the pub trade," Becky explained. "We have both separately managed pubs, and we have managed a couple of pubs together, but this is our first tenancy. It's so exciting for us.
"All our staff are from Knebworth, which is great, and they have been incredible - we couldn't have asked for more."
One customer on Friday said: "What a lovely opening night. So lovely to see so many familiar faces for a few social drinks. Love the revamp. Thank you to the welcoming, professional staff on great service." Another added: "Enjoyed the wide selection of drinks and friendly staff serving. If you're in the area, please get along and enjoy a proper pub atmosphere. It'll be a good experience."
The Station's opening hours are noon until 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 12 noon until 7pm on Sundays.