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Chester's Centurion pub is 50 not out

Pub once threatened by bulldozer celebrates its half century and coming runner-up in national competition

The Centurion

A Chester alehouse named The Centurion commemorated its half century thanks to the efforts of campaigners.

Regulars at the Vicars Cross pub raised their glasses during a special evening of double celebration.

That’s because The Centurion not only celebrated its 50th birthday – having opened on Thursday, December 15, 1966 – but also coming runner-up in a national CAMRA award recognising pubs brought back from the brink.

It could all have been so different if the community had not stood its ground and planning permission had been granted to demolish The Cenny and build a care home in its place.

Vicars Cross community pub returns with 'sensational' opening night

At the CAMRA presentation were, left to right: Cllr Pam Hall, (Con, Great Boughton), Trevor Jones, chairman CCAG, Nick Bosley, CAMRA regional director, Bob Hindhaugh, deputy chairman CCAG and Cllr Keith Board (Con, Great Boughton).

Trevor Jones, chairman of The Centurion Community Action Group (CCAG), said: “The evening went extremely well and there was a presentation by CAMRA. I think the only reason we didn’t win was because the people who saved the winning pub in Dorset had gone ahead and bought it. They managed to raise £170-odd thousand pounds and we are only just starting down that track.

“But we managed to save The Cenny from being demolished and it’s on a lease at the moment.”

Trevor, who is grateful for the support of CAMRA, local councillors and city MP Chris Matheson, added: “Everything is going very well. We have been very busy ever since we reopened.”

Vicars Cross community comes together for Macmillan Coffee Morning

Cutting The Centurion's 50th birthday cake were Carole Powis and Judith Jones.

And the community remains at the heart of the pub. Recently there was a ‘Big raffle night’, a pensioners’ party and a children’s party.

Trevor said Boughton Parish Council had provided a Christmas tree and lights and G & M Goold funeral directors had paid for lights on the trees.

“We are very much pulling together as a community enterprise,” said Trevor.

CAMRA was particularly impressed by how CCAG, with the support of the local CAMRA branch, worked together to save The Cenny from the bulldozer.

Battle cry from The Centurion at Vicars Cross: 'Back our community pub'

Regulars attending the special evening of celebration at The Centurion in Vicars Cross held on Saturday, December 10, 2016.

Their press release reads: ”Since being re-opened by the community, The Centurion has been thriving, offering a range of real ales on draught as well as social opportunities ranging from weekly quiz nights, coffee mornings, car boot sales, training courses, group meetings for local associations and events including birthdays, christening parties and funeral wakes.”

Keith Porter, of Chester and South Clwyd CAMRA Pub Protection Group, said: “The CAMRA branch was delighted to have been able to help the CCAG in their campaign to reopen The Centurion. The CCAG leaders conducted a model campaign, highly professional and well managed. It was particularly satisfying to help debunk the flawed arguments about the pub's viability.”

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