South Scotland

We bought a pub - so what do we do now?

Appeal board in front of the Crook Inn
Image caption The hoardings are still up but campaigners say they raised the cash in time.

There's an empty champagne bottle in a bin at the front of the Crook Inn.

"We had a small gathering, to celebrate", laughs Duncan Davidson, chairman of the Tweedsmuir Community Company.

Campaigners were celebrating reaching the appeal total of £160,000, which is still there in bold letters on the advertising hoarding in the pub's car park.

The future of the building has been in doubt since the business was closed, nearly seven years ago. The new owner's application to turn it into houses and flats was turned down.

Eventually a deal was done that, if local people could raise enough by the end of 2012, they could buy the building.

"We appealed to the community, both locally and internationally, to support us", campaigner Andrew Mason explains.

"We felt we had to do this, because the inn has been a hub of our community for 400 years and we couldn't let it just close."

"At the beginning of last year the owner said if we could raise the money within twelve months he'd be willing to let us have it. And we're delighted, absolutely ecstatic, that we've managed to do it."

Mr Davidson told BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that support had come from a whole variety of people from Scotland, England, Wales and Canada, who donated or pledged money to the appeal.

Mr Mason says the priority now is to draw up plans for the restoration of the building.

"But also", he adds, "we need to speak to the community and find out exactly what they want of it."

"We're not going to say: 'oh, right you've got your pub back.' We're going to say: 'what do you want from this building for the next hundred, two hundred, years?'"

Ideas that have been mooted for the re-born Crook Inn include using it to provide tourist information, possibly as a venue for a doctor's surgery, maybe even a replacement for the now closed village Post Office.

And campaigners hope that now they've secured ownership of the building - assuming everyone pays up all the money they've promised - it will be easier to secure funding for the Crook's long-term future.

Image caption The Crook Hotel was first licensed in the 17th century

They say it's worth it because of the Crook's long and significant history.

"It was first licensed in 1604", Mr Davidson explains, "and it has been a centre for employment in the community."

"But it has also been visited by a variety of people: Robert Burns; James Hogg; John Buchan. It was at one stage the centre for the literati of Edinburgh to come out and have some revelry."

Each generation has left its mark on the building - from the formidable Victorian frontage facing on to the main A701 road, to the 1930's art deco windows by the door to the car park.

The question now is: exactly what form and function will the Crook Inn find for the future?

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