THE date, Thursday, November 30, is a date that will go down in local history as the day the community received the keys to their pub, The Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton. 

Thanks to the support of a crowdfunding campaign by more than 500 individuals, enough money was raised to buy this historic pub from the pub group corporate, Stonegate, and start preparations to reopen it in the Spring of next year.

Toby Rubbra holding the key to The Drewe Arms.
Toby Rubbra holding the key to The Drewe Arms. (ike Smallcombe)

The sale was completed last week and Toby Rubbra, who heads up the steering group behind the community ownership campaign, received the keys to the pub at 3pm on the Thursday.

It was snowing for the first time this winter, which only made the pub look more picturesque and more welcome to those steering group members present, who were all keen to get across the threshold.

"We bought bubbles, beer and nibbles and even firewood to light the fire and within minutes the pub was brought back to life," said Jane Martin, a steering group member.

"The front bar was warm and cosy and ringing with voices toasting being back in our pub. It was like nothing had changed. The place was exactly as we remembered it, like it had never closed."

ITV Westcountry were there to immortalise the moment on the evening news, as was photographer Mike Smallcombe. 

"It all seems surreal," reported Toby Rubbra, who heads up the steering group.

After more than 14 months closed, put up for sale by Stonegate, this pub’s future had seemed in serious doubt and the village had been plunged into an eerie gloom at the loss their famous, historic centrepiece that had served so many generations over so many years.

But recognising the immense value of The Drewe Arms on so many levels, residents rallied and hundreds came to the rescue.

As Toby told the reporter covering the celebrations: "We’re so grateful to the 500-plus people who supported this campaign, which has culminated in getting the keys to this pub today, for the community!

"Now the work truly begins to get The Drewe back up and running as a vibrant community hub by the Spring. It’s all incredibly exciting, the potential for the pub is immense and we can't wait to welcome every person who helped make it happen through the door.” 

Given the extent of repair and refurbishment required the group don’t expect the pub to be back and trading until March of next year, but they do plan to hold pop-up pub nights just as they did in the square during the campaign; only this time of course inside the pub.