People power has not only saved a pub once threatened by the bulldozer but will now run the traditional ale house as a community venture.
Campaigners recently celebrated after developers lost an appeal that would have allowed them to convert The Centurion at Vicars Cross into a 64-bed care home.
But there was no guarantee it would ever re-open after being closed by the owners in January.
However, Chester-based Admiral Taverns agreed to discussions with The Centurion Community Action Group leading to a deal being struck on an initial 12-month lease. In the space of a fortnight the community raised thousands of pounds to pay for three months' rent in advance and other set-up costs.
The group aims to hire a salaried manager to run the pub with a target relaunch date of Friday, August 26, at the start of the bank holiday weekend.
CCAG chairman Trevor Jones and vice chairman Bob Hindhaugh have been leading lights in a campaign backed by Chester’s Labour MP Chris Matheson, ward councillors, Great Boughton Parish Council, CAMRA and the Plunkett Foundation, which supports social enterprises.
Trevor said on Facebook: “We do have sufficient funds and donations to meet our start up costs but if anybody has not donated up to now any contribution would be gratefully received. Of course this is only the start and our intention once open would be to focus attention on how we can purchase the Cenny in the future."
The Centurion has been registered with the council as an Asset of Community Value which gives the community an opportunity to put in a bid to buy the property although the owner is under no obligation to accept. This process has now been activated and a full valuation will be carried out as a guide to how much the community will need to raise by as soon as the end of November.
Trevor added: “If things are in place we will be able to take the keys on August 18 to give us seven days to prepare the pub for reopening. A lot of cleaning, tidying and maintenance work needs to be done inside and out and, of course, we need to get all beer and other drinks delivered and lines cleaned etc.
“Please can our DIY SOS volunteers put the week of August 18-25 in your diaries. We will list the work we want doing before then and then try and allocate tasks to groups or individuals.”
He added: “Feeling rather exhausted but excited that we have at least achieved the re-opening and also very proud to be part of the Vicars Cross community which has refused to be defeated and lie down when confronted by big business who wanted to just walk all over our community. Well done Vicars Cross and thanks to all donators.”