Overcoming all odds: Roughlee pub ready for grand reopening

A much-loved local pub is gearing up for its grand reopening after overcoming a severe kitchen fire, fighting off a potential sale to housing developers, fundraising £500,000, and being threatened with legal action for using the word 'village'.

The jubilant Roughlee villagers.
The jubilant Roughlee villagers.

The Bay Horse Inn on Blacko Road in Roughlee is gearing up to reopen its doors on Saturday, November 25th after overcoming the odds thanks to a sterling community effort to save their beloved pub.

Closed after a kitchen fire in September 2016, the establishment was saved from being turned into housing by a consortium of local community members, who raised an astonishing half-a-million pounds to purchase it themselves with a view of restoring a once-renowned Pendle eatery back to its former glory.

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Barely weeks before it was due to throw open its doors once more, however, the pub's new owner, Chris Swarbrick (53), was threatened with legal action by the Village Hotels group - a national company with 29 hotels and which had a turnover of £185 million last year - because he called his company BH Village Inns and violated a registered trademark for the word 'village'.

Chris, fearing bankruptcy, relented and changed his company name to placate the lawyers, and according to Robert Carson, a member of the community consortium, the village is ready to get its pub back.

"It's looking really good," Robert (66) said. "The upstairs of the pub was in a right state, but villagers have done virtually all the work on the accommodation, a brand new bathroom, a kitchen, and a lovely sitting room. They're very optimistic.

"It used to be the busiest pub around - 30 or 40 years ago, it was frequented by Burnley footballers," Robert added. "It's fantastic; without a pub, people just wouldn't meet up with each other [so] it's brought the community back together again.

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"We've all made new friends," Robert said. "It's been great for community spirit."

On Thursday, November 23rd, the pub will be hosting an investor's dinner as a test-run before the official opening date two days later, with 100 people expected to turn up to celebrate the consortium's efforts. And with the new and improved Bay Horse Inn looking to reestablish itself as one of the area's finest gastropubs, the new menu is already looking "great" according to Robert.

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"Because it's in the country, the beers will be local and you've got to have good food to get people out from Burnley and Nelson," said Robert. "We've got a good chef who was trained by Nigel Haworth, who's behind the Ribble Valley Inns group, at The Three Fishes in Whalley.

"He knows his stuff," he added simply.