Fresh start and challenge as locals take over village pub in Ovington
By Alex Metcalfe - Senior Reporter
A HISTORIC pub has been taken on by new owners after its long-serving landlord called time.
The Four Alls, in Ovington, has been run by John Stroud for most of the past 16 years alongside his partner Sam Mason.
With renovation work complete, villagers David and Christine Nixon are now in control of the reigns at the 200-year-old pub after toying with the idea of taking over for years.
Mr Nixon said: “We’ve got a fantastic team behind us at the village hall and it just seemed like a natural progression really.
“We saw the opportunity come along and we just thought we had to go for it.”
The Nixons are both lynchpins of Ovington’s Village Hall committee and have lived on the outskirts of the village for the past 18 years.
Mrs Nixon has helped prepare the meat option when food is served at the hall while her husband brings in the acts.
Lunches and morning coffees will be part of the pub’s relaunch which will see it open from Thursday to Sunday. Mr Nixon was under no illusions about the challenges which lay ahead.
The 59-year-old said: “In these times it’s a daunting task in some ways with so many pubs closing down.
“That’s why it will be vital to get plenty of support from the locals.
“There are a lot of walkers and cyclists who come through so we are hoping we can get them in too.
“The size it is now is right for the number of people in the village.”
A rejigged layout has seen the pub returned to how it was before the 1990s with a more compact bar area on the western side of the inn.
The handover brings an end to the Stroud family’s long association with the pub which saw it weather some tough times with bridge and road closures.
Mr Stroud said: “It’s been a long time since it’s been small.
“It’s had bits and pieces added on over the years and now it’s almost going back to being an old-fashioned English public house.
“It’s what Dave wants to make of it – promotion will be the biggest challenge because we are not on any main
“But its location is far from the madding crowds.
“It’s the start of a new era and after 16 years it’s good to get a fresh set of eyes to look at it.”
Rumours had swirled in the village over who would take the keys and Mrs Nixon revealed it had been tough to keep their takeover under wraps.
Mr Nixon thanked his predecessors for all their hard graft.
He added: “John and Sam have done an absolutely sterling job in here – they really have worked so hard to make it a pub of the community.
“Our taking over the pub is not going to affect events at the village hall – we are still continuing and we’ve had some fantastic events in there.”
The Four Alls will be reopened on Friday, May 4 at 7pm with drinks and snacks.
Music and performances from Tanya and Shaun Henderson have also been lined up as well as the guitar stylings of Mr Nixon’s grandson Matthew, aged ten.