East Anglia

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Red Lion Preston, Hertfordshire The Red Lion claims to be the first pub bought by village power. In 1982, residents of the small village of Preston...

Red Lion

Preston, Hertfordshire

The Red Lion claims to be the first pub bought by village power. In 1982, residents of the small village of Preston banded together to acquire the freehold from Whitbread, which had plans to turn the pub into a steakhouse.

Shareholders take a back seat

Since then, the Red Lion has retained its

independence and flourished to become the epitome of what a village pub should be.

Tim and Jane Hunter took over as managers in 1999 and were given free rein by the 102 village shareholders to develop the business.

Tim remarks: "Today, the enthusiasm among the villagers for their pub is exactly the same as it was in 1982." Shareholders

receive a dividend from the business so it is in their best interests to frequent the freehouse for a meal or drinks. It is not only the 350 villagers that are drawn to the Red Lion; it enjoys patronage from ramblers, cyclists, real ale enthusiasts and customers lured by home-made food. It is the Campaign for Real Ale's Hertfordshire pub of the year 2006 and has been listed every year in The Good Beer Guide since the couple took over.

People not profits

Tim and Jane have also developed strong links with the local cricket club, supported a golf society and ensure the pub is at the centre of every village activity such as charity auctions, the annual village fete, carol services, pétanque competitions, wine tasting and bonfire night celebrations. The pub prints

its own newsletter, which is distributed to residents.

Over the past year, the shareholders have invested in further improvements to ensure the village's pub remains in pristine condition. A new patio and pergola have been added at a cost of £12,000 and another £11,000 spent of refurbishing the ladies and gents toilets.

Jane says the raison d'être of the Red Lion is "to be the focal point of a small rural

community. Making large profits has never been an objective".

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