Pub owned by former Fenmarc boss - where Kate and William once stayed - sold to restaurant chain who own fire ravaged Blackbird at Woodditton

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 August 2018

Fire ravaged Blackbird at Woodditton that could re-open next year

Fire ravaged Blackbird at Woodditton that could re-open next year


Owners of the Blackbird at Woodditon are hopeful of re-opening the fire ravaged pub next year but in the meantime have bought a Suffolk pub where Kate and Prince William once spent the night.

Before and after the major fire at The Blackbirds Inn.Before and after the major fire at The Blackbirds Inn.

The Chestnut Group is hoping to re-open the Blackbird late next year, “but it’s not confirmed” said a company spokesman.

“‘We are continuing to work in partnership with planners and English Heritage to reinstate our fabulous inn whilst respecting its historic importance.

“The Chestnut Group can confirm that its insurance company has accepted liability for the fire.

“Now that we have received this confirmation, we are in a position to move forward and focus our energies on reinstating the building.”

Major fire at The Blackbirds Inn. Photo: @Blackbirds_Inn / TwitterMajor fire at The Blackbirds Inn. Photo: @Blackbirds_Inn / Twitter

“This will involve working with multiple external parties, including the planners in partnership with the heritage officer to ensure that the building is reinstated with respect to its historic significance.”

The pub/restaurant had only been owned by the Chestnut Group for two years having bought it off an asking price of £580,000 and they had invested heavily in the business prior to the fire.

Now the group, set up only six years ago, has added The Westleton Crown and The Ship at Dunwich to its family of East Anglian inns that includes The Packhorse Inn in Moulton near Newmarket and The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester.

The Westleton Crown was where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed one night in 2012 after attending the wedding of Kate’s school friend, Hannah Gillingham.

The company has bought both restaurants from Agellus Hotels, a privately-owned hotel group owned jointly by businessman Mark Harrod and his wife Rachel.

Mr Harrod is well known in Fenland having led the management buy out some years ago of Fenmarc and developing an anaerobic digestion plant capable of producing 2.5MW of electricity.

He had acquired Fenmarc Produce as part of a management buyout team in 1998.

The Sunday Times, 10 years ago, put him on their annual Rich List having explained that through acquisitions and a secondary buy-out he had amassed a personal fortune of around £40 million.

Mr Harrod said Agellus would be concentrating on expanding their two retained hotels and restaurants, Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk and the Chequers and Lifeboat at Thornham, North Norfolk.

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