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Campaigners plan to reopen historic Royal Oak pub

By Chris Hunter

It was all hands to the pump as campaigners came together discuss plans to reopen a historic pub.

The Royal Oak in Frindsbury was saved from the bulldozers when history-loving Joe O’Donnell and supporters had the building listed, forcing a plan for housing to be withdrawn.

Campaigners outside The Royal Oak in Cooling Road, Frindsbury
Campaigners outside The Royal Oak in Cooling Road, Frindsbury

Around 40 of those supporters, including the chairman of Frindsbury Parish Council David Coomber, met at Wainscott Memorial Hall, in Strood, on Sunday, July 3, to discuss plans for the community to buy and run the pub themselves.

“It went really well,” said Joe O’Donell, who is now chairman of the Save the Royal Oak Frindsbury Group. “Pretty much everybody there supported the idea of buying the pub for the community.

“It’s going to take a combination of raising funds and getting a loan through the government pub purchase scheme.

“Obviously whether we buy it depends on how much we can raise.

Joe O'Donnell wants to save the pub
Joe O'Donnell wants to save the pub

“I’ve been in touch with the owners and they’ve said they’ll listen to offers - fingers crossed they will see sense.”

The group have now enlisted the services of Steve Clare, a leading expert on community purchase schemes, and are set to hold further meetings to discuss the best way forward.

Believed to date to the 17th century, the pub is thought to contain timber from HMS Royal Oak, sunk by the Dutch in 1664 at Upnor.

And if all goes to plan the historic pub will remain a living part of Frindsbury’s history for years to come.

Mr O’Donnell added: “It will be bought as a community pub and run by the community to make sure it’s saved for the future, and we won’t have to deal with it being put up for sale again.

“We want to make the most of it as an historic building.”

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