The 17th Century Fox Inn occupies a prominent position at the main crossroads in the rural village of Garboldisham in Norfolk, approximately 7 miles from Diss. The pub had been closed for 10 years until the community raised the funds to purchase the pub, and in 2016 it came under community ownership through a Community Interest Company (CIC) scheme. Once they had the keys they found the building in an extremely poor state; it was derelict and uninhabitable. There were no utility services, walls and timbers were fire damaged and blackened, floors were water spoiled and externally the garden and car park was an overgrown wilderness.
Many of the villagers volunteered their help and were determined to get a small part of the Fox premises opened for the festive season. Through their efforts the inglenook bar was restored in-time to open for Christmas 2016. From then on it has been all ‘hands to the pump’ through volunteers helping to restore the building; cleaning, decorating and repairing, with people providing furniture materials and equipment so that more of the pub could be used. The committee was aware of Norfolk County Council’s initiative with Pub is The Hub, so the made contact with the regional advisor, Terry Stork. The decision was made to provide a café in a room serviced through a separate entrance to the rest of the pub. In order to do this a mini kitchen would be created in the old store room at the rear of the pub.
The new mini kitchen and café was officially opened by local MP, Elizabeth Truss on the 27th July 2018. (See our story, ‘Liz Truss MP Pops in for tea’.) She had supported the villagers in their goal to buy the pub from the outset, so she was aware of the tremendous effort that had gone into getting the Fox Inn partially opened and in creating the mini kitchen and providing the café.
The café is now a focal point for the community, making it a social hub, with both young and old mixing together helping to combat isolation and loneliness. The pub’s committee ethos was always to support local traders so now the café provides locally sourced food and the pubs real-ales come from local independent breweries, all helping to boost the local economy. Without this continued support from the volunteers and customers plus the wider community the Fox would almost certainly now be a building site for residential development.
The future for the Fox Inn is now bright; with more plans afoot to include a restaurant within the pub that will entail more rebuilding and the installation of a commercial kitchen. Nevertheless their determination already demonstrated will ensure the Fox Inn becomes a beacon of community spirit and continues to be the hub of the village.
LESSONS TO LEARN
- Local authority backing giving a kick-start to this project
- Opportunity to purchase newly baked produce and locally sourced fresh food
- Addressing a long standing need to provide a café helping to reduce social exclusion
- Generating a positive perception of the pub, through Pub is The Hub supported by Norfolk County Council
|Total project capital costs||£8,668|
|Norfolk County Council – Community Services Fund grant||£3,000|