The prosecco was flowing at the grand reopening of The Centurion pub which was packed with customers and supporters as it launched as a community venue.
The Centurion Community Action Group (CCAG) saved the Vicars Cross pub from the bulldozer in a hard fought campaign.
Now the pub will be run by the community for the community on a 12-month lease with plans to purchase the building to secure its long term future.
Residents turned out in force on the opening night after CCAG chairman Trevor Jones had jokingly asked for the whole neighbourhood to go along.
Addressing those gathered on the PA system, he quipped: “I can only take full responsibility for that because I presume everybody’s read The Chronicle this week where I was asking for the whole of Vicars Cross to turn up and I think it looks at though you have.”
To a round of applause, he said: “The next group clearly has to be the Vicars Cross community. I’d like you to choose because I can’t, what their finest hour was and what their finest achievement was, because there’s a number of these.”
Trevor had earlier been greeted by CCAG vice chairman Bob Hindhaugh, who shook his hand warmly, saying: “We done it any way, mate.”
Bob told The Chronicle: “It’s brilliant. It’s quite sensational. We have won a major battle. We have got to where we are but we have still got a long way to go. This is what it’s all about.”
He thanked officers at Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Plunkett Foundation for their ongoing advice and financial support which meant The Centurion was the first pub to open under its ‘More than a pub’ scheme.
This mean the pub will aim to benefit the wider community by becoming a hub where groups can meet and even take part in training sessions, for example, seniors are hoping to get to grips with using an iPad.
Chris Matheson MP, who attended the opening, alluded to the sheer numbers when he joked on the mic that he wouldn’t be coming back again as he’d been waiting half an hour to order a pint.
He continued: “Tonight is about the community campaign, tonight is about the victory. It’s the first step but it’s your victory. When you raise your glasses tonight, raise them to yourselves. Well done and thank you.”
Mr Matheson thanked Chester-based Admiral Taverns, who own the pub, for giving the community a chance and taking the risk.
”They have seen the strength of feeling for The Cenny,” said Mr Matheson, who has booked a coffee morning at the pub to show his support. “Now it’s down to all of us to come here and have a pint, have a meal and support it to make sure it stays viable and stays open.”