ALE Spring 2000 No. 297

Reaching for Success

The rural pub has recently been the subject of much gloomy prognostication in the media and not without good reason. It is estimated that between six and ten country locals are going to the wall every week as income declines and costs increase. All of this makes the story of the Dyke's End at Reach especially heartwarming.

The pub had more recently been known as The Kings but had fallen on hard times. The owner/licensee reckoned he couldn't make a living and applied for planning consent to convert the building into a private house. Local residents, led by the pub's nextdoor neighbour, Brian Pearson, started a vigorous campaign to save it.

East Cambridgeshire District Council had, fortunately, included a policy within their Local Plan to safeguard last pubs in villages and so they refused the planning application. In the meantime the campaign group Reach for a Pint found 48 people willing to chip in to raise the 160,000 needed to buy the pub. A further 30,000 was sufficient to renovate the place, mainly because local craftspeople offered services at reduced rates.

The Dykes End reopened last October and has been buzzing ever since. Much of the credit here must go to landlord Phil Vincent, formerly of Stocks Restaurant in Bottisham. Few village pubs can thrive nowadays without doing food and Phil is a chef of some renown. In the evenings most of the eating goes on in the newly created first-floor restaurant, the bar being mostly given over to drinking. At lunchtimes a full range of bar snacks and meals can be had downstairs. Word of mouth recommendation means that booking is highly advisable if you want an evening meal (call 01638 743816).

On the real ale front, four handpulls are kept busy. A recent visit found Greene King IPA, Adnams Bitter, and two Milton Brewery beers (Pegasus and Neptune) occupying them, and Milton Mammon and Nethergate Christmas were being served from pins on the bar. The drinking area itself is simply appointed but comfortable, with an open fire and an areas tucked round the side which can be used by families.

One slightly ironic aspect to all this is that the Dykes End only became a pub in 1976, before which the village had been dry (though it once boasted at least six pubs) since Watney's closed the White Horse in 1969.

Nonetheless, the pub's saving is a great achievement for the village and its continuing success looks assured.

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