A VILLAGE has raised almost £500,000 to save its pub which was at risk of being turned into houses.

The Bay Horse Inn in Roughlee was closed in September after the kitchen was destroyed by a fire.

After residents learnt plans were being drawn up to build homes on the site, which sits at the junction of Pasture Lane and Blacko Bar Road, they launched a campaign and managed to raise the cash in just four months.

The historic pub, which re-opened in 2013 after a two-year closure, was listed as an asset of community value which gave the villagers six months to come up with the cash before it was put on the market.

Now they say they have enough money to buy the pub and carry out repairs with plans to redo the kitchen and build accommodation upstairs although fundraising continues.

Paul Dawson, a businessman who led the campaign, said: “The response has been fantastic. We have had pledges ranging from £1,000 to £50,000.

“We got off to a fantastic start, and it has just snowballed.

“It used to be the busiest pub in the area so we want it to be that again.”

The team is now waiting for lawyers to complete the transaction is trying to find an accomplished chef to take over the tenancy.

Robert Carson, 66, who lives in the village, said: “People would come from miles around to eat at the Bay Horse but it wasn’t just a foodie pub, it was a great meeting place for the locals too.

“Roughlee is a lovely village in the Forest of Bowland.

“We have everything people dream of in an idyllic village life but we don’t have a village shop, church or cafe.

“To lose the pub as well would have turned the place into a commuter village.

“My wife and I have lived here for 35 years. When houses come up for sale they usually sell like hot cakes. But since the pub closed, 12 houses have gone on the market, and they are all still for sale.

“It looks like people don’t want to move to a village without a pub, no matter how picturesque it is.”

The village is famous for its connection with the Pendle Witches and Alice Nutter, who was hanged at Carlisle Castle in 1612 and used to live there.

“Some locals joke that she must have cursed the pub but the real curse has been high brewery rents that have forced out tenants,” Mr Carson said.

“We are not going to make that mistake. Because we will own the pub, we can treat the tenant fairly, with a realistic rent.”

You can contact Paul Dawson at cpauldawson@anvic.co.uk, or Robert Carson at robertalexandercarson@gmail.com.