Couple start campaign to secure future of Chesterfield’s oldest pub and turn it into community asset

A Chesterfield couple are leading a campaign to buy the oldest pub in the town and establish the venue as a community asset.

Thursday, 17th February 2022, 3:21 pm

The Royal Oak was put up for sale earlier this year, after former landlord Paul Storey opted to end his tenancy and open the Hidden Knight on Soresby Street.

The building is claimed to have been a rest-house for the Knights Templar during the Holy Crusades of the 13th Century, and later became two butcher shops owned by the Duke of Devonshire, before opening as a pub in the 1700s.

Martin and Dawn Alvey have a long-standing involvement in the Chesterfield pub trade, with Martin providing entertainment at venues across the area, and Dawn currently managing the Rectory in the town centre. Martin said that, when they saw the Oak for sale, they decided to try and find a way for residents of the town to secure the pub.

The Royal Oak is one of Chesterfield’s most historic buildings, dating back hundreds of years.

“When we noticed the pub had gone up for sale, we thought it would be an interesting idea if the people of Chesterfield could find a way to buy the Royal Oak and secure it, with it being such a big part of the town’s history.

“There’s a lot of love for the place as it’s such a historical building.”

Martin said that, if their efforts were successful, the plan was to integrate the pub back into the community, as well as supporting local breweries and businesses.

“If we buy the pub, it'll be a freehold and won’t be tied to any brewery, so we could work with local breweries instead- there’s so much we can do. I called the group ‘Help Us Buy The Royal Oak’, but that’s us as in Chesterfield - we thought it should be something that sits there, similar to the museum.

“We have medieval and 1940s market days, but it’s rare that anything actually happens with the Oak - there’s so much more you could do. Because it hasn’t been involved with anything to do with the history of Chesterfield, or any events for the past 20 years really, a lot of people in their mid-20s don’t even really know it’s there.

“The history is amazing and I’d love to have people coming in and doing tours. The pub is also the most haunted in town as well, which is always interesting.”

For now, those involved with the campaign are exploring different ways of securing the pub, and Martin urged anyone with ideas or expertise to get involved.

He said: “We’re asking people for help with ideas, and how we can make this a possibility. Mostly, we’re looking into possible funding, working with the council and a few other potential investors.

“There’s been a lot of positivity just from putting it out there, and a few different people like the Derbyshire Historical Building Society have got involved to see if there’s any grant money available.

“I’ve been kind of overwhelmed with how many people have had similar ideas, and love the place so much. It’s a massive part of the town. It might not happen- it would be amazing if it did, but I think a lot of us would kick ourselves if we didn’t at least try.”