Historic Hapton pub to come back 'better than ever' after businessman buys building
Big plans are in the pipeline for a village's last remaining pub restaurant after the building was taken over by a prominent Hapton businessman.
Homeowners in the area had been left fearing the worst when the Hapton Inn was sold to a mystery buyer at auction in August.
However, Frank Owen's purchase of the historic establishment now means the pub will not be converted into a house and will instead undergo a radical refurbishment.
It brings to an end months of uncertainty for villagers who had rallied around to form The Friends of Hapton Inn, a group which was instrumental in lobbying Hapton Parish Council and Burnley Borough Council in granting an Asset of Community Value on the building.
The group, spearheaded by businessman Kevin Furber, raised £280,000 through investments from community-minded residents in order to buy the pub, but in the end the money was not needed.
"We're delighted that Frank has bought the pub," said Mr Furber. "Frank is a Hapton man who knows the history of the pub and what it means to the community. In fact, it is because of the community support shown in the past few months that he has decided to go ahead and buy it.
"We did have the money and the support but this makes it a far more straightforward deal. It is one man's vision now instead of a committee of 22 members running it."
Mr Furber said he had been overwhelmed by the level of support and generosity shown towards a pub that served locals through two World Wars and was used a meeting place following the immediate aftermath of the Hapton Valley pit disaster.
"It's been nice seeing the community pull together. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this next stage and it has proven that the customers are there. One local lottery winner – Sid Hodson – even pledged his £30,000 winnings to the Friends of Hapton Inn cause. That was a lovely gesture.
"Many offers of financial support came from ex members of the local community such as donations from the Fagan family who formally ran Fagan and Whalley from Hapton. I was also humbled that several of the investors had opted to take money out of pension funds – three of them over £20,000 – as the pub had meant so much to them throughout their time in the village."
Work is now being carried out on the Accrington Road pub and Mr Furber is expecting it to look "better than ever" ready for its March opening.
"Frank has his team of architects and builders down there now carrying out works and repairs. The building is being brought back to being fully compliant. The damp is being dealt with and the smoking area issue is also being resolved. And as there is no brewery hold on it, there is no pressure on raising beer prices.
"The pub is going to be better than ever."