Cheers! Stockland community celebrates as The King's Arms starts pulling pints again

PUBLISHED: 17:21 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 30 January 2020

Damian Clay, second from left, celebrates with local residents. Picture: Cliff Smith

Damian Clay, second from left, celebrates with local residents. Picture: Cliff Smith

CLIFF SMITH

Glasses were raised in celebration at The King's Arms in Stockland as it officially reopened for business on Monday, January 20.

The opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff SmithThe opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff Smith

The pub had closed in 2013 after a period of decline.

But local residents, led by Damian Clay, formed a community benefit society and raised the money to buy and renovate it themselves.

They took possession of the Grade II listed building in January 2019, and embarked on the major task of restoring and renovating it.

A year later, Mr Clay and the new team of tenants held two informal evenings to officially mark the pub's reopening and show off its beautifully redecorated interior, including three guest rooms upstairs.

The opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff SmithThe opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff Smith

Mr Clay said it was a wonderful occasion.

"It's absolutely marvellous, I think our community can be really proud of what everybody's achieved," he said.

"Some of us have been doing this for six years, and since we purchased the building so many people came forward from the community who have got hands-on skills, who have really put this building back together and made it what it is today.

"I'm incredibly proud of everybody that's contributed to it."

Jane and Tony Reps. Picture: Cliff SmithJane and Tony Reps. Picture: Cliff Smith

The tenants now running the King's Arms are Ben Walker, Tony Reps and Richard Benson, who jointly signed a 15-year lease in December.

Mr Walker has spent the last 15 years in pub management and has previously run the Royal Standard and the Volunteer in Lyme Regis.

Mr Reps has spent his career in accountancy, in the hotel business and service industry.

Mr Benson is the former owner of the Millside Restaurant in Lyme Regis, and has taken over as the King's Arms' chef.

The opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff SmithThe opening celebration at The King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff Smith

He was in the process of selling the Millside when the opportunity came up at The King's Arms, and he was happy to get on board.

"I suppose the location was one thing, a beautiful country pub," he said.

"And I love the way it's split up into lots of separate dining areas, which is lovely, so we can have different things in different areas of the pub."

The tenants described the opening evenings as 'a great success' and thanked all those who went along for their 'praise, encouragement and wonderful feedback'.

Richard  Benson, right, in the kitchen. Picture: Cliff SmithRichard Benson, right, in the kitchen. Picture: Cliff Smith

One of the refurbished dining rooms at The King's Arms. Picture: Cliff SmithOne of the refurbished dining rooms at The King's Arms. Picture: Cliff Smith

One of the refurbished dining rooms at The King's Arms. Picture: Cliff  SmithOne of the refurbished dining rooms at The King's Arms. Picture: Cliff Smith

The King's  Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff SmithThe King's Arms, Stockland. Picture: Cliff Smith

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