Published: 19:01, 23 May 2022
| Updated: 19:03, 23 May 2022
Footage has emerged showing efforts to save to an historic village pub after a fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday.
The blaze at The Chequers Inn in High Street, Aylesford, is believed to have started in the kitchen.
Fire crews tackle the blaze at The Chequers. Footage: Nick Batchelor
Firefighters were called at 3.48am on Sunday and eight engines were sent.
They fought the blaze for a number of hours, stopping at 7.56am.
Fire investigation officers assessed the scene and another crew went back at 1.14pm to check for hotspots. None were found.
The road remained closed until 2am today.
A fire service spokesperson said: “It’s believed the fire started accidentally in the kitchen area of the premises, however the exact cause is yet to be determined.
"The property was not occupied at the time of the fire.
"Firefighters worked to prevent the fire from spreading and damage was confined to the first and second floors, with a small amount of roof space also affected.”
The pub has been updating its followers via social media and support has been pouring in.
Through a post on social media, the pub said: "We’d firstly like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has messaged, commented, and sent their best wishes and to all of our amazing friends who rallied around to help us in the early hours of yesterday morning and continue to help us in the days after.
"After much deliberation this morning, we have decided that for the safety of our staff and customers, The Chequers will remain closed for the short to medium term.
"Thank you very much for your continued support and rest assured we will be back better than ever!"
Many offered kind words in response, saying they look forward to the grand reopening.
Rachel Groves said: "I am sure I can speak for most people but as soon as you are back open a lot of people will come and support you in popping by [for] drinks and meals."
Alan Matthews said: "Good to hear and best wishes. Look forward to visiting again. No one hurt and damage can be repaired that's the blessing."
The Grade II-listed, timber-framed Tudor building was built in 1511 and was originally a wool merchants. It became a pub in around 1740, making it one of the oldest pubs in the area.
Politicians have also voiced their support for both the pub and the fire crews.
Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “The Chequers supported vulnerable people during the height of the pandemic, an act that isn’t forgotten by people.
"I am sure once things have settled and there is some clarity about the operations of the pub, the community will return the favour by popping in for a pint or two.”
Cllr Matt Boughton, leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, said: “My thanks to all at Kent Fire and Rescue Service who did a great job in responding to the fire at The Chequers.
“The pub is at the heart of the village community in Aylesford and I know this has caused concern for so many local people.
"Once the extent of the damage is realised I look forward to The Chequers reopening as soon as possible.”