Pub reopens after more than one year of closure thanks to villagers’ efforts

Olly Slym at The George Inn pub, Abbots Leigh. It is reopening on Friday. Picture: MARK ATHERTO

Olly Slym at The George Inn pub, Abbots Leigh. It is reopening on Friday. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

A village pub has reopened thanks to the efforts of a previous tenant and a group of villagers.

The George Inn, in Abbots Leigh, was closed for the past year and listed as an asset of community value by North Somerset Council.

The Times reported in August the public house, in Manor Road, would sit on the list for the next five years, which prevented the owner, Ei Group, disposing of the freehold or granting a lease of 25 years or more without giving the community the opportunity to form its own bid.

MORE: Village pub looking for tenants despite being listed as an asset of community value.

The pub has been taken over by Olly Slym, who also used to manage it six years ago.

He told the Times: “The problem was the entire community wanted The George to reopen, but no-one plucked up the courage to buy it.

“We have made a lot of changes, including a new sign and menu and have also made our function room a suitable venue for hire.

“The old bar area was rather outdated so we have upgraded it and have been in regular contact with the working group to keep the pub’s village feel.

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“We had a group of volunteers come and help sort the garden out last week which was fantastic to see.”

Abbots Leigh Parish Council formed a small group designed to engage the community to support the public house but not interfere with its running as a business.

Cllr Murray Stewart, who spearheaded the group, said: “We are delighted to see The George will reopen its doors thanks to a small group of investors and a group of committed villagers.

“I know while any pub has to break even these days we all hope it can maintain its traditional side.

“Already there is great enthusiasm in the village and volunteers have offered their time to make the pub fit for purpose.

“There have been big improvements inside and outside and now its time for people to put their money where their mouth is.”

The building is one of the oldest in the village, dating back to the 1700s.

It has two bars, a beer garden, function room and private accommodation of two bedrooms, a lounge and a kitchen.

A revamped menu will include burgers, pizzas, a steak and wine night and Sunday roast dinners.

The George will host a grand opening for the public at 5pm on Friday.