Royal Oak, Bere Regis, Dorset

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Bere Regis is a village and civil parish in the Purbeck district of Dorset, situated 6 miles north-west of Wareham. In the last census the civil parish had a population of 1,745. The village has one shop, a post office, and two pubs, The Royal Oak and The Drax Arms and the village features in the Domesday Book.

Janette Woodhouse is the lessee of this Ei Group pub and has been running the business for just over six years. For the last four years she has also been the local post mistress in a business operating in the shop, about 100 yards further up the village high street. Like most local communities in rural areas, Bere Regis is struggling to keep essential services going. Concurrently, Janette also helps two other nearby villages by delivering an outreach postal service to them.

Project summary:

The Bere Regis post office was struggling to survive in the premises it was in and very much in danger of being closed for good. Janette therefore decided to try and move the post office business into her pub.

She approached Pub is The Hub for advice and discovered that she was also eligible to apply for a grant from the Community Services Fund towards the cost of refurbishing the bar and installing a new Post Office counter.

With great local support for the community, and rather less support from officials involved, the re-housing of the post office went ahead.

Outcomes so far:

  • In addition to the Post Office, the pub also boasts a printing/copying service with two lap tops available for use by customers and community alike.
  • There is a large smart TV that can be used in meetings, for local information, training sessions or even watching films.
  • As people use the Post Office they have already started combining this with a coffee morning in the pub driving additional footfall to the pub.
  • In retaining the Post Office service this project has saved three local jobs.

Lessons to Learn:

Whilst the licensee of the pub was very determined that the vital Post Office service was not going to fall by the wayside keeping the local community on side has been crucial to the success of the scheme: On the first day the post office /shop opened in the pub there was a queue across the shop and out of the door.

Project Costs:

Contribution from Licensee £500
Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Grant £3,000
Total Project Costs £3,500