Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Pub to re-open after sale to mystery buyer

AN historic village pub could re-open despite residents failing in a bid to purchase it themselves.

AN historic village pub could re-open despite residents failing in a bid to purchase it themselves.

The Half Moon in Cuxham has been sold subject to contract by Henley pub company Brakspear.

The pub closed in September after 200 years as the company said it was no longer viable.

The pub, which was valued at £350,000, was marketed through estate agents Fleurets but the identity of the buyer has not been revealed.

The pub had been registered as an asset of community value, which meant Brakspear had to give the community six months to come up with an offer to buy it before it went on the open market, although the company didn?t have to accept a bid. This period ended in March. Villagers raised almost £90,000 towards the £200,000 purchase price of the pub. Ruth Hayman, who led the campaign to buy the pub, said: ?We have been told by Fleurets that the purchaser is involved in the trade and plans to run it as a pub so that?s wonderful news as far as we?re concerned.

?As far as we know, it?s under offer and the sale hasn?t been finalised yet.

?The very best we could hope for is that whoever buys it continues to run it as a pub.?

According to Fleurets? website, the pub has a bar and restaurant with seating for 30 and was extensively refurbished and rebuilt in 2002. The property includes a terrace, gardens and parking for 16 cars as well as two-bedroom private accommodation for the landlord.

Residents investigated several options to secure the future of the pub and believed that community ownership would give it the best chance of long-term survival so offered locals the opportunity to buy shares in the pub.

They found financial backers as far as Australia when villager Joan Barker lobbied her extended family in Perth and Sydney and they responded with pledges to buy shares at £200 each.

The balance of the purchase price would have been covered by a loan and possibly some grant funding.

Brakspear says that before the closure it provided former landlady Jude Bishop with marketing and design support and charged her ?virtually nothing? in rent but the pub?s trade flattened out.

The Half Moon had been run for almost a year by Mrs Bishop, who was also landlady from 1998 to 2001 before moving to the Fox and Hounds in Christmas Common and then the Rising Sun at Witheridge Hill.

She has since returned to the Fox and Hounds, which is also owned by Brakspear.

The Half Moon enjoyed success under the five-year stewardship of Andrew Hill and Eilidh Ferguson, who now run the Red Lion in Britwell Salome.

In 2009 it was named Oxfordshire?s dining pub of the year by the Good Pub Guide and the best gastropub in the South-East. The couple left the Half Moon in April 2011 following a contract dispute.

Brakspear declined to comment and Fleurets did not respond to a request for comment.

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