Maytime makeover

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pub, Flood, Tim

Running a pub means you have to be prepared to expect the unexpected. You can never be sure who, or what, may come through the door.But when it's a...

Running a pub means you have to be prepared to expect the unexpected. You can never be sure who, or what, may come through the door.

But when it's a huge torrent of river water, you¹re inclined to feel a little hard done-by.

Last July Tim and May Morgan, owners of the Maytime in the hamlet of Asthall, Oxfordshire, had their world turned upside down ­ quite literally ­ by the worst floods to hit the UK for 60 years.

"The whole pub was taken out, it was under five feet of water, it was awful," explains Tim.

A massive shock

Despite living close to the banks of the River Windrush, the pub had never experienced a flood before.

May says: "We've been here 33 years and we've never had a drop of water come near us, so it was a massive shock."

As well as the pub's main bar becoming immersed, its six letting rooms were also flooded. In short, it was a complete disaster.

But Tim and May are not the sort of characters to let natural disasters ruin their pride and joy.

The pub is very much part of the lives ­ and thankfully they were fully insured. When they bought the freehold in 1975, the pub was condemned, the roofs were leaking and there were only outside toilets.

But the energetic couple transformed the place, and renamed their pub as a combination of their own names.

However, the most recent transformation took much more patience.

"We had to wait five months just to let the place dry out, it was very frustrating," says May.

"At one point we had 24 dehumidifiers on the go."

The storm affected more than half the village with 15 out of the 26 houses there flooded. Tim and May were lucky, however, as they were able to stay put, living above the premises.

But once the drying out process was complete the couple decided it would be a good opportunity to update their beloved Maytime.

As Tim says: "It was looking a bit dated, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to spruce the place up."

Half-a-million pounds

Fast forward eight months and the place is back open to grateful villagers and locals, thanks to the half-a-million pound clean-up and refurbishment operation.

The pub now has more space for drinkers, but can still cater for up to 75 diners, with separate areas allowing for a more intimate meal. Although the layout is the same, the pub has been "streamlined" says Tim.

Even Baxter, the pub's resident dog, seems happy.

To commemorate the re-opening, Tim and May hosted a party for friends and locals and invited local MP, and Conservative leader, David Cameron along to pull the first pint.

A fantastic turn out and a genuine sense of relief among guests made it clear it was worth the effort of getting the pub back into a decent state.

It proves a pub right at the centre of a community is still vital to village life across Britain.

"It's great to be back where we belong," adds Tim.

Summer floods: the facts

  • Around 500 pubs were affected by last July's floods ­ the worst to hit the UK for 60 years
  • However, many other pubs offered shelter and accommodation to residents left homeless by the disaster
  • Commercial insurance claims totalled around 7,500, with the average claim being £90,000
  • The Licensed Trade Charity sent out 10,000 letters offering assistance to pubs affected

Related topics: Property law

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