Westruther locals plan to buy village pub

The Old Thistle Inn, Westruther.
The Old Thistle Inn, Westruther.

Villagers in Westruther are rallying to save a pub that’s been at the centre of the community for nearly 300 years.

The Old Thistle Inn has provided a warm and welcome retreat for locals and visitors since opening its doors in 1721. But with current owner Angela McCall wanting to sell up, the future of the Thistle has come under threat.

After gauging interest in the village, a group of locals formed a steering group to investigate the prospect of community purchase.

Determined not to lose their local, the group, under the banner of Westruther Community Project, is in the process of trying to secure grant funding to purchase and expand the pub.

Secretary Deb Holt explained: “Angela has been trying to sell the pub for eight or nine years, and it’s now at the point where it is really only open on a Friday night and a Saturday lunchtime.

“It has been a very popular, thriving pub in the past. When we were cut off with the snow last year for six days, the pub was heaving.

“It’s the heart of the community and we want it to stay that way for many years to come. The villagers want to make sure that we maintain a pub in the village, and we also want to have a shop and a cafe facility.

“Angela wants to sell the pub and we really want to buy it. We also want to purchase the Coach House next door, to create an expanded community hub with a shop and a cafe to be open during the daytime.

“We have funding from the Scottish Land Fund to employ people to do a business plan for us based on how it could be if it was open every day.”

A public meeting is being held in the village hall on Saturday, March 2, at 6pm to update the community on how plans, likely to be in excess of £150,000, are progressing, and to provide information about buying shares in the community benefit society which will own and run the pub.