A PUB in York which came within a whisker of being lost for ever will reopen this week, after being brought back from the brink.

The Volunteer Arms, in Watson Street, Holgate, faced closure six months ago when the then owners Punch Taverns tried to turn it into housing.

Punch said the pub was not viable and said trade had fallen, but councillors rejected their plans by four votes to three and, after a change of ownership, the pub is now set to reopen on Friday as a freehouse.

The Volunteer Arms, which dates back at least 144 years, has been bought by Paul Crossman and Jon Farrow, who have spent thousands of pounds on the pub, inside and out. A new internal wall has been built in the main bar room, the bar area itself has been redecorated and the pair have re-hung the old pub sign, which they found nailed to a wall in the garden.

Mr Farrow and Mr Crossman already co-own The Slip Inn in Clementhorpe, and Mr Crossman is also landlord at The Swan in Bishopgate Street, named recently as overall winner in The Press Pub Awards, and the pair say they are confident about their new venture.

Mr Crossman said: “I really think there’s an appetite around here for what we are offering. People keep on saying they cannot wait for it to open and I think we will get plenty of local trade. We would like to be a real hub for this little area.”

The pub will have four permanent real ales and a wide range of other beers on tap.

Matt Grant, chairman of the York branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the pub is to reopen after coming so close to being lost. Hopefully it will be another example of how pubs can succeed as freehouses, despite previous owners telling us they were unviable.”

Had The Volunteer Arms closed, it would have left Watson Street without a pub for the first time in well over a century-and-a-half. The Locomotive, next to The Volunteer Arms, closed last year after 159 years of trade, and is to be turned into town houses.