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THE Wilts and Berks Canal Trust has bought the historic Peterborough Arms at Dauntsey Lock from Wadworth Brewery and plans to reopen it as soon as possible.
The canalside pub was closed by the brewery in April 2013 and the trust quickly opened discussions to buy it. The sale has gone through thanks to loans from the trust’s supporters.
The group hopes to expand the pub and turn the site into a canal centre which will accommodate a cafe and a museum as well.
“The trust is excited to have been able to buy the Peterborough Arms.
“We know our plans are ambitious, but we believe we can make this into a tourist destination. We are also keen for this to be a centre for the surrounding community,” said Chris Coyle, acting chairman of the trust.
“We are taking a deep breath now as there is a lot of work that’ll need to be done to put the flesh on the bones.
“We hope to have a formal reopening next summer but we want to have a visible presence at the pub immediately so we can talk to the public about what we want to do.
“We properly wouldn’t be able to serve beer at this stage but we could dish out some coffees.”
Wadworth Brewery is pleased to see that the Peterborough Arms will get a new lease of life.
Lloyd Stephens, tenanted trade director of Wadworth and Co Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have been able to reach agreement with the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust to keep the Peterborough Arms in existence.”
The trust is welcoming public support and donations to help with their ambitious programme.
Chris added: “The purchase has been funded by loans from our incredibly generous and supportive members and I want to thank them all.
“We now have to work out exactly what the programme of work is to enable us to do everything that we want to do. The restoration will be a big task given the condition of the pub.
“We are looking for support from our members and the community in lots of ways, to move this complex project forward.
“If anybody wants to join the loan scheme or make a donation, or offer help with the project, then we would be delighted to hear from them.”
Once the pub reopens the trust would like to run boat trips from it as well as allowing visitors to hire bikes and boats.
The trust received strategic and legal advice from Charles Wakefield and Natalie Wright of Thrings on the purchase.
Mr Wakefield said: “Thrings has been advising the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust on legal matters for more than ten years, and we are pleased to have successfully concluded a deal which will enable the new-look Peterborough Arms to be enjoyed by the next generation of people in Wiltshire and beyond.
“The Trust is now entering an exciting phase of the project, and over the coming months will begin refurbishing the pub, securing the required trading permits and re-launching a business which is regarded with such affection by so many people in the local community.”