A VILLAGE pub near York which regulars once feared they might lose forever has reopened after a major refurbishment.

The Lord Nelson in Nether Poppleton welcomed customers back last month, a couple of weeks after the lockdown was eased and after enough work in sprucing up the building had been completed, said owner Chris Thomas.

The improvements included new furniture in the beer garden, improvements to the gents and ladies toilets, redecoration and new lighting, and some furniture had been removed to ensure social distancing between customers.

He said customer reaction had been positive and further improvements were planned, including bringing in external partners to put together a food offering, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

He said he intended to appoint tenants to run the pub after the refurbishment work had been completed,and they could make decisions on issues such as whether to bring back Sky TV and the pool table,although the latter was not possible at the moment because of the need for social distancing.

The pub is said to have been built in the 17th century and, originally called the Cross Keys, was renamed the Lord Nelson after the Napoleonic wars to commemorate the great naval hero who lost his life at Trafalgar.

The Press reported in 2017 how villagers were so worried that it would shut- after owners Enterprise Inns announced it wanted to sell up - that they launched a fundraising campaign to buy it for the community.

They said that since the closure of The Fox, there were no other traditional pubs in Nether Poppleton and they feared the village could go the way of so many others in being left with no pub.

They got the pub declared an Asset of Community Value, giving them a six month stay of execution on the sale, and then more than 100 people turned up to a packed meeting which led to a 'community benefit society' being set up, inviting people to pledge to buy shares to raise money.

Mr Thomas said the bid failed after the villagers were outbid by an unknown buyer but then, having earlier inquired about buying the pub, he decided to make a higher bid and bought it.