Cambridgeshire villagers rally together in bid to save final pub

Cambridgeshire villagers are rallying to save the last pub in Ickleton
-Credit: (Image: Ickleton Lionhearted)


Cambridgeshire villagers are rallying to save the last remaining pub and turn it into a community-run hub. The Ickleton Lion has been a pub since 1728 but closed its doors in July 2023 and is now for sale.

A community group called 'Ickleton Lionhearted' aims to raise the funds needed to buy the Lion from Greene King and reopen it as a community-owned pub. The group has until September 24, 2024, to raise £450,000 – and they have already raised £136,000 in just three weeks.

Rachel Radford, chair of Ickleton Lionhearted, said the pub has been missed since it closed last year. She said the local cricket club described the Lion as "their pavilion" and went there to "celebrate or commiserate" after matches.

"Something's missing at the heart of a village that doesn't have a pub," she said. "We've got photographs in the village archive at the pub of people standing outside it going off on charabanc trips, and there was a steam engine club apparently that used to meet in the snug at the Lion."

During its 300-year history the pub has served pints to US airmen during WWII and been used by scientists at the nearby Welcome Genome Campus. It is also situated on a main cycle route, with cyclists visiting the pub for refreshments on their journeys.

The Ickleton Lion
The Ickleton Lion -Credit:Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons

Mrs Radford said the community group had been "amazed" at the support the project had received so far. "We've got a long way to go to buy the pub," she added.

There are plans for the pub to be used for other services, including hosting a mobile post office and lunches for carers, as well as breakfast clubs during school holidays. Mrs Radford said local people had also offered to help restore the pub to glory by working on the garden or helping with painting and maintenance.

Simon Cheney is vice chair of the group and owner of the central Cambridge restaurant Bread & Meat. He said: "Our vision is to create a welcoming meeting place, serving affordable drinks and good quality, home-cooked, simple food.

"The Ickleton Lion won't just be a place to eat and drink, but a community hub allowing people to connect with one other and access essential services and support groups. Our village used to have 6 pubs with another just outside and we hope to keep the Lion as part of our cultural heritage."

A community share offer to buy the pub will run from July 10, to August 31 to raise the £450,000 needed to buy the pub. Shares will cost £1 with a minimum investment of £200 and maximum of £100,000, and every member will have an equal say in the running of the pub.

There will be a share launch at Ickleton Village Hall at 7pm on Wednesday (July 10) for people to find out more about the community share offer. It will be followed by a screening of the England game at 8pm. For more information, visit the Ickleton Lion website here.