A pub which has been closed for more than three years has undergone a £250,000 refurbishment and will be reopening next month.

The Coach House Inn, formerly the Coach and Horses, in Winterbourne Abbas has been given a complete makeover and will be reopening in March creating 15 jobs, including eight full-time and seven part-times roles.

The pub, which is located next to the A35, has been bought by couple Lee and Jo Worsley who own Duck’s Farm Shop and The Kings Arms in Portesham.

Mr Worsley said: “When a pub has been closed for three and a half years and you put £250,000 into it, there’s always quite a bit of risk attached.

“But we have done our research and it’s clear there is enough interest and local appetite to support it.”

He added: “We are restoring a lot of the pub’s original features.”

The old coaching archway will be reopened and used as a entrance door to the refurbished pub.

This would have traditionally been used for stagecoaches to turn into the building so they could access the stables.

He explained: “The pub has been fully refurbished all the way through. We have changed the layout, so it is fit for purpose.

“It’s got a dedicated bar and dining area and multi-purpose/ function rooms, as well as an extended dining area.

“The Coach and Horse was apparently well known for its carvery, so we’re introducing that with a local twist. All our meat will be from local farmers, so it will be a West Dorset carvery.

“I think people are becoming a lot more conscious about what they’re eating and where it comes from.”

Mr Worsley says there is a ‘general buzz’ in the village about the pub reopening.

He explained: “There’s around 700 people living from Winterbourne Abbas to Winterbourne Steepleton.

“They haven’t got a village hall or pub and from the conversations we’ve been having there’s a local appetite for it.

“It will be the only eatery (on the A35) excluding McDonald's between the Botany Bay Inn at Winterborne Zelston and The Crown in Bridport.”

Mr Worsley also said there’s a chance the number of employees could increase once the pub has ‘found its feet’ further into the summer.

There will be five letting rooms available at the pub, as well as 34 parking spaces and a patio garden.

The couple say the relationship with the community will be key to its success.

Mr Worsley explained: “In Portesham we established that it’s the small things you do. In our first year we had six people at the pub on Boxing Day – which is meant to be one of the busiest days of the year.

“The following year we found out that there was a duck race in the village, so we thought we would restart that and did some fundraising for charity.

“On the next Boxing Day we had more than 300 people and we’re now into our seventh annual duck race.

“That’s become a community event, albeit the pub was the starting point. You do have to have a very close relationship with village.”

Mr Worsley added: "We have a good history of turning businesses that are on their knees into something that the local community and larger area would want."

By Trevor Bevins

Local Democracy Reporter

A NEW flat could be created at the former Coach and Horses in Winterbourne Abbas.

The pub, which has been closed for more than three years, is expected to open again in March re-named The Coach House Inn. It has been bought by Lee and Jo Worsley from The Kings Arms in Portesham.

Dorset planners are now being asked to consider an application for a manager’s flat on the site, creating a new entrance for it on the west of the building.

A letter from agents says the viability of the pub relies on the manager being on site 24-hours and that the re-opening will create local jobs. Comments on the proposals are open until March 10.

Other changes under a £250,000 refurbishment include re-opening the old coaching inn archway and internal changes to the bar, dining area and function rooms.

There will be five letting rooms available at the pub, as well as 34 parking spaces and a patio garden.