Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire veterans take over historic Lichfield army pub

Crowds gathered in the street
Image caption Hundreds of people gathered outside the pub at the opening ceremony

Army veterans have taken over the pub their regiment was formed in 312 years ago after it was at risk of closure.

The Staffordshire Regiment was formed in the King's Head in Lichfield in 1705.

When they heard the landlord was retiring and it may be turned into a bed and breakfast, veterans and well-wishers raised almost £65,000 to take over a 10-year lease.

A procession marked the opening of the pub, in Bird Street, on Saturday.

Image caption An opening ceremony took place 312 years to the day the regiment was formed

Veteran Geoff Pearce said: "Someone that lives locally saw the building advertised for sale - the outgoing landlord was retiring and, rumour had it, it was going to be turned into a bed and breakfast.

"I had a phonecall off one of my colleagues asking 'how do think about us buying the lease? I thought he'd lost the plot.

Image caption Veterans and their supporters raised £65,000 in two weeks to take over the lease

"The more I spoke to him the more he convinced me it could be a goer.

"It took two weeks for over 350 of the ex-members and the families to pledge £65,000. That's how much it meant to the veterans and the residents."

Steve Knight, a former corporal, said it was an "honour" to be the landlord.

Built in 1408, the pub is the oldest in the city. Colonel Luke Lillingston raised a regiment of volunteers in the pub on 25 March 1705.

In 1782 it was given the title of the 1st Staffordshire Regiment.

It has been used a meeting place for soldiers and veterans ever since.

Image caption The King's Head is the oldest pub in Lichfield

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