A campaign to buy a much-loved village pub has succeeded following a campaign that raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Plough Inn in Longparish is now owned by the community following a collaboration by the parish council and a group of residents.

Work is set to get underway in the near future, with those behind the project hoping to have the pub open by June, Covid restrictions dependant.

The Plough Inn opened in 1721, and was one of the village’s most popular drinking establishments for much of that time, and was recognised with awards such as Good Food Guide’s Pub of the Year.

It closed in 2015, and survived two attempts to convert it into a house. Plough Ahead, a group of residents looking to turn it back into a pub, subsequently formed in 2018.

They launched a fundraising campaign to raise part of the purchase price of the pub, which was listed for £550,000 on Rightmove. They managed to raise over £300,000 by selling shares to members of the public, with 240 members of the public chipping in various amounts to see the pub resurrected.

Another £300,000 was borrowed by Longparish Parish Council to cover further costs, and they will take on legal ownership of the pub, with the building leased back to Plough Ahead on a long term lease. £100,000 was also provided in a grant and loan package from the Plunkett Foundation’s ‘More than A Pub’ programme.

Now the keys have been handed over, work begins on restoring the building. The new owners said that the pub had been “stripped bare” and requires a lot of work to make it suitable for reopening. This includes fixing the roof; fitting out the kitchen, bar and rooms; updating the heating and electrical systems and landscaping the garden. Several locals have already stepped forward to offer their help.

Andy Jolliffe, chair of Plough Ahead, said: “We are really excited to be joining the growing number of community owned pubs. The level of support from the village to save the Plough has been amazing.

“It’s taken a couple of years, and we couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic support of our parish council, or the help of organisations like the Plunkett Foundation, Power to Change, Key Fund and TVBC who have provided additional finance as well as invaluable help and advice.

“We now have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are so pleased that we are able to give our lovely old pub another chance.”

Christian Dryden, the chair of Longparish Parish Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have been able to buy back our village pub. When we heard what the community pub was trying to do, we wanted to help.

“Our two pubs, the Cricketers and the Plough, are extremely valuable village assets – I think lockdown has taught us just how important such local meeting places are to the community. So together we worked out a way for the Parish Council to buy the Plough, using a loan from central government – so that it could then be leased back to the village and run as a community pub and hub.”

If all goes to plan, Plough Ahead is hoping the pub will be ready for a grand re-opening at the end of June.