Published: 16:33, 08 July 2020
| Updated: 17:00, 08 July 2020
Pub bosses are facing a £500,000 repair bill after a 4x4 smashed through the front of their building – just hours before it was due to reopen.
Husband-and-wife team Ray and Ann Perkins were set to host 200 punters at The Swan Inn in Ashford on ‘Super Saturday’ after being closed for more than three months through lockdown.
But at about 2am on Saturday, a Land Rover ploughed into the historic Little Chart pub, leaving a large hole in the side of the 16th-century building.
Remarkably, the pair still managed to serve customers on the day of the crash, but are now facing a lengthy rebuild which is set to see the building closed off for up to a year.
A structural survey carried out on Monday found one of the site’s chimneys will need to be brought down as part of the repair work.
“The pub itself will be closed for up to a year,” Mrs Perkins told KentOnline.
“Nobody is allowed inside as there is no space for social distancing in the part of the building we could use.
“It has Dering windows and the bricks will need to be handmade.
“The work will all be covered by insurance, but we will have a loss of trade and earnings.
“It is really well insured by the brewery, Stonegate, and ourselves, but it is the mental side of it – it is really stressful and very distressing.”
The pair – who were asleep upstairs when the crash happened – thanked residents for their support on Saturday following the incident.
Police said three 17-year-old boys sustained minor injuries, one of which was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and taking a vehicle without consent.
Mrs Perkins added: “I would like to say a big thanks to all the residents who came and cleared the bar area within four hours of the crash on Saturday.
“We were up and ready to rock thanks to them – they cleared devastation into a usable area.
“Thankfully we have got a fabulous garden and we’ve got many tables under cover there.”
Mrs Perkins – who has been running the 1570-built site for two years with her husband – says Stonegate is to erect a heated structure on the pub’s terrace which will provide space for at least 16 tables.
“We were mega busy at the weekend and we are going to continue to crack on,” she added.
Saturday’s incident was not the first time the pub has been hit.
In February 2017, a woman was taken to hospital with head injuries after a van hit the pub’s wall.
Previous landlord Brian Davies was asleep when the crash happened in the early hours.
Following Saturday's incident, Mr Perkins added: "When the 4x4 hit, it was like a bomb going off.
"It threw things across the room and shattered tables.
"It was very emotional, very upsetting.
“But luckily we have an outside toilet and are soldiering on."
Although the pub itself is out of bounds, Mr and Mrs Perkins are still welcoming customers to their garden during the normal opening hours.