A rural community was cracking open the bubbly after completing the purchase of its local pub.
Villagers in Tweedsmuir, in the Scottish Borders, yesterday paid £160,000 to buy the 17th-century Crook Inn, the oldest coaching inn in Scotland.
The hostelry, which had lain vacant for six years, had been under threat from plans for housing, but the Tweedsmuir Community Company, set up to save the pub and which is now a registered charity, successfully raised the money needed to buy it after an agreement to purchase was reached with businessman and previous owner Jim Doonan. Now the company faces the task of renovating the inn, which was closed in November 2006 by Mr Doonan with a view to building houses on the site. His planning application was rejected by Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government.
The inn, which dates back to 1604, was one of the first licensed establishments in Scotland, and the hostlery was also where Robert Burns wrote the poem Willie Wastle’s Wife. John Buchan, author of Thirty Nine Steps, Sir Walter Scott and the Ettrick Shepherd James Hogg also frequented the pub.
Duncan Davidson, chairman of the Tweedsmuir Community Company, said: “The support to Save the Crook Inn has been phenomenal.
“We are very grateful to all those who have made the purchase of this landmark inn possible. It would have been impossible without donations, both large and small, both locally and more widespread in Scotland, the UK and Canada. We even had donors recalling their delight in the Crook Inn stretching back to 50 to 60 years ago.
“We have had vital support from Scottish Borders Council. Our largest donors have been the wind farm companies, Infinis and SSE, showing that wind farm companies can make very valuable contributions to communities.
“We are also pleased to have become a registered charity.
“Our aims for the Crook Inn extend beyond the restoration and updating of the 400-year- old inn to educational, cultural and social activities in Upper Tweed and beyond.
“For the next phases we will need much assistance with time, effort and skills and, of course, money. It is an exciting and worthwhile challenge.”