Return of the Red Lion

Tom Barrington outside the newly refurbished Red Lion in Sidbury. Ref shs 5133-37-14TI. Picture: Ter

Tom Barrington outside the newly refurbished Red Lion in Sidbury. Ref shs 5133-37-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The new owner of Sidbury’s Red Lion pub hopes to attract a roaring trade as he throws open the doors in time for the village’s fair week.

The reopening of the popular local follows a 15-month-long campaign to secure its future that ended when a completely separate private investor, Tom Barrington, stepped in and bought the business.

Mr Barrington, who has lived ‘in and around’ Sidbury for 16 years, is delighted to finally realise his dream of owning a pub and says feedback from people in the village has been great.

“The pub will be open for the community and everyone is welcome,” he said.

The future of the Red Lion came into question when previous owners, the heavily indebted Punch Taverns, decided to sell it on, prompting the formation of the Save The Red Lion group.

Campaigners feared the village would lose its pub and worked in vain to net £200,000 to run the business as a community enterprise.

They have since offered their congratulations to Mr Barrington, who was not involved in the campaign, and hope to see the pub going from strength to strength.

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The new landlord says it has been a real community effort getting the premises ready in time for Sidbury Fair week, with a dedicated team working around the clock.

“It has been absolutely fantastic, but very stressful in order to get it ready for the Sidbury Fair,” he said.

“I only completed in early August so we have had five weeks.”

Aside from painting, decorating and cleaning-up, Mr Barrington has not changed ‘the fabric’ of the premises and plans to run the business as a traditional pub to cater to villagers, walkers and visitors.

The interior centrepiece is a new, locally crafted oak bar that will be well stocked by Branscombe and Otter breweries, among others.

Plans for the newly opened pub include lunches for the elderly and regular skittles nights, with Sidbury Fair activities kicking things off this week.

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