January 30, 2023 2.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Villagers save one of Lincolnshire’s most historic pubs

The Dambusters crew and Prince William had pints there

One of Lincolnshire’s most historic pubs which was frequented by the Dambusters crews and Prince William has been saved by an unlikely consortium of locals.

The Blue Bell in Tattershall Thorpe is one of the county’s oldest inns and was facing closure until it was saved by a group of seven villagers.

Among the Blue Bell’s saviours are a book keeper, a potato farmer, a plastics fabrication factory owner, another farmer, a commercial heating engineer and a grandma who makes pottery!

Dating back to 1257 – the Blue Bell boasts the signatures of Prince William and World War Two flyers who scribbled their names into its beamed walls and ceilings.

It once thrived as locals and visitors alike flocked to sample its 13th-century origins and Second World War history.

King Henry VIII also reputedly visited the Blue Bell.

The cosy pub boasts a large open fire and beamed ceilings that are covered in signatures and photographs of airmen from World War II RAF squadrons who used the pub, including the 617 Dambusters and 627 Pathfinders whose mess was at the nearby Petwood Hotel.

But like many rural pubs the Blue Bell looked to have fallen victim to the cost of living crisis which combined with the Covid-19 pandemic has been shutting Britain’s locals at a record rate.

Ronnie Haines, Karin Haines, Debbie Gorensweigh, John Gorensweigh, Steve Leggate, Sue Maltby, and Nick Maltby outside The Blue Bell Inn in Tattershall Thorpe, Lincoln. | Photo: John Aron

However villagers in Tattershall Thorpe, which boasts just 245 residents, could not bare the thought of the Blue Bell passing into the annals of history and formed a consortium of seven people to keep it running for the community.

Three middle aged couples Debbie and John Gorensweigh, Karin and Ronnie Haines and Sue and Nick Maltsby teamed up with local farmer Steve Leggate to take the inn on, and officially became co-owners last week.

Debbie, 55, was brought up in hotels in Scotland that her dad ran and then moved to Lincolnshire where they bought the Abbey Lodge Pub in Kirkstead 36 years ago.

She worked there and then started her own pottery painting and fancy dress business in Boston which she sold and retired.

Debbie said she is “loving” the challenge but admitted: “I retired then had too many beers with friends and bought the pub to save it for the village.

“One of the last things a sane person would want to do in this present climate is take on a pub.

“There wasn’t a lot of interest and it’s an amazing building.”

The Grade II listed building has its own priest hole and, supposedly, even a resident ghost.

Prince William visited when he was stationed at nearby RAF Cranwell and the Blue Bell is particularly famous because the 617 Dambusters and 627 Squadron that flew out of RAF Woodhall Spa in the 1940s used to frequent the pub, including Wing Commander Guy Gibson himself.

The pennies that were lodged in the ceiling beams by the servicemen so they could then buy themselves a pint on their return from air raids are also still there.

And the ceiling is covered in signatures from some of the original members of the squadrons and other notable celebrities such as Hollywood A-lister Ewan McGregor.

Debbie said the consortium had also purchased a neighbouring field with the view to hosting community events at a later date, including beer festivals and a Coronation party for King Charles III on May 8.


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