Fresh Start for Historic Pub Gutted by Blaze

Posted: 22 July 2014

Blog category: Pubs

A Farncombe pub gutted by fire earlier this year has been officially re-opened following a major reconstruction project.  The Three Lions had just enjoyed a makeover when new licensee Sarah Firth and husband Graham moved in on January 17.  Less than three weeks later, on February 4, a fire tore through the historic Shepherd Neame pub, causing extensive damage throughout.

Although the dedicated team were behind the bar serving drinks the next day, a third of the premises was unusable, and Sarah and Graham had to move out as their accommodation was uninhabitable.  But just over five months later, the pub is back to its former glory, thanks to a £125,000 refurbishment funded by the brewery.

Dating back to the late 17th century, the pub is believed to be the oldest in the Surrey village. The project has included the redecoration of all bar areas and toilets using heritage colours in keeping with the pub’s historic character; a new bar counter; new log burning stove and new carpets, curtains and furniture. The tenants’ accommodation has also been completely restored.

The pub’s exterior has been repainted, including traditional signwriting, and new timber seating installed in the garden, which has been made more family-friendly with a new picket fence separating it from the car park.  New catering equipment has been installed in the kitchen, which is now serving up a range of snacks and delicious pub classics from noon to 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday; and from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday and Thursday.

Local dignitaries and residents were invited to the official opening event on Monday, July 21, with the first pint pulled by retired Godalming Fire Station crew manager Mick Croker, the first firefighter on the scene when the pub was alight.  Other members of the local crew also turned up at the pub in their fire engine, to celebrate the pub’s re-opening.

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame attended the launch event, and to mark the occasion presented a cheque for £500 to Matthew Richardson, charity fundraiser for The Fire Fighters Charity.  

Sarah said: “I worked as a sales manager for a local newspaper group for the past 16 years, but I wanted a new challenge and when The Three Lions became available, it seemed the perfect opportunity. It is the first pub I have run, and it has definitely been a challenging introduction to the industry! But I have a fantastic team of staff, and have received incredible support from the local community. I would also like to thank Shepherd Neame for all their hard work to return the pub to its former glory.”

Shepherd Neame’s property and services director George Barnes said: “The Three Lions is an historic pub, and our aim was to create a contemporary look while retaining its character and atmosphere, and we are very pleased with the results. Sarah has demonstrated incredible tenacity and dedication during the past six months, and I am confident that she will continue to build upon the pub’s success.”