The residents of New Radnor are looking ahead to the opening of the Radnor Arms after securing grant funding from Westminster. Locals gathered to welcome ITV Wales into the pub, to talk about future plans for the currently derelict building.

After closing in 2016, the pub was purchased on behalf of the community last year by an interim funder, to give the community the chance to raise the funds to purchase the pub. Without that act, the pub would have been lost forever. The community have since been fundraising to pay for it.

The plan is to refurbish the pub and restore it to its former glory.

Hannah Thomas, the rural affairs correspondent for ITV Wales, met with residents today to talk about the work they have planned for the building.

Martin Lewis, the recent chair of the Radnor Arms Hotel Limited Community Benefits Society, aimed to help Hannah raise awareness about what they want to achieve with the redevelopment project. "It's the heart of the community. It was a thriving pub. We want to provide a venue as a social hub, and hopefully, that will help with social cohesion."

Martin speaks to ITV's Hannah Thomas
Martin speaks to ITV's Hannah Thomas (Brecon & Radnor Express)

He believes that having a place for both locals and tourists to meet, will help make New Radnor a desirable place to visit. "Tourism is very important for the local economy. There are lots of people doing Airbnb, cottages to let, there's a caravan site. There's no facilities to cater to them, and no accommodation for people passing through."

Community spirit is behind the saving of the pub, with residents lobbying for funding and catching the attention of MP Fay Jones. "There are lots of societies here who used to use this as a venue to meet. We want to keep that going."

The earliest records of the Radnor Arms are from 1830, and it is the last surviving pub in the village. Many of the others have been turned into houses.

The bar of the Radnor Arms
The bar of the Radnor Arms (Brecon & Radnor Express)

Despite being awarded funding from the government in Westminster, the community now has to match fund the grant up to £200.000. They were also granted a further £40,000 as revenue funding to bring in professional skills. Martin is confident the committee can raise the money, with the town offering shares in the pub to anyone who might be interested, in the community, and wider, from £25 to £25,000 making it accessible for everyone to help raIse funds to support the purchase and refurbishment of the two bars in this phased development of the whole site, and to secure the maximum amount of funding possible.

"We've got to start by making the building safe," Martin says. "Our intention with the money received is to renovate the bars downstairs and get drinks served."

Eventually, the hope is that they can open the kitchen to serve food and refurbish the upstairs accommodation so that it can be a thriving business and hub for the community.

"Lots of people are involved. The support has been incredible right from the beginning. The amount of volunteer workers has been incredible." Martin said. "Hopefully when we've got through the administrative part of it, we will in the meantime be looking at plans for the work. Hopefully, we can open around Easter time."

Residents at The Hub
Residents at The Hub (Brecon & Radnor Express)

To help raise money and awareness, residents meet at The Hub, a place in the old school of New Radnor. It sits around the corner from the pub, and food is made on a Friday, with drinks served. Community gather at the hub to plan how they can raise funds for the pub, but also to have a place to meet and be friendly with their neighbours.

One person who is keen to see the pub open is 91-year-old Jennifer, who first came to New Radnor as an evacuee. After moving back home, she retired back to the village. She holds happy memories of the pub. "It would be wonderful to see it open again. I always wanted it to carry on, because it changed my life. I wouldn't have known about this place without it."

"A lot of my friends and relations moved here, and lived the rest of their lives here," Jennifer said. "A friend said why don't you retire here? So I came back. They're so friendly here. I hope if I'm still here I will enjoy my first drink when the pub re-opens."

The community shared their stories and their plans with Hannah Thomas, and the piece aired on ITV's Wales at Six.