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CULROSS is banking on the global pulling power of Outlander and celebrity endorsements in a “last stand” to save the village pub.
The ancient royal burgh was used as a set for the hit TV series and it’s hoped that fans – and the stars and film crews who shot there – will help fund the community purchase of the Red Lion Inn.
Current owners David Alexander and Ann Dowds are retiring and villagers aim to raise the cash needed to buy it with a share offer launching on Wednesday.
Tim Collins, chair of Culross Development Trust, said: “If we can get the money, they’ve said they’ll sell to us in preference to anyone else.
“We’re hoping to get some of it from the Scottish Land Fund and the balance from the community share offer.
“It’s not just a pub, it’s more than that.
“When you walk in, people are all smiling and happy, it’s such a welcoming place.
“It’s not something you would want to lose. It’s the last pub in the village.
“The other pub went to a developer, we lost the post office and butchers shop, we’re slowly becoming a dormitory village so this is the last stand.”
And they’re hoping to reel in some big names from the TV and film world to help in their quest.
Tim said: “Culross is used for a lot of historic film sets and when they come here to film they eat in the Red Lion and always say how nice it is.
“They always contribute to the village for community projects when they’re here and they stay in touch.
“It’s the kind of people who worked here on Outlander and, as a result, a lot of people follow the Culross Appreciation Society and are interested in the village.
“So there is a big following globally and we’re expecting people from everywhere to say, ‘Let’s put some pennies into that’.
“There are also a number of celebrities we hope will give us short video clips of support.
“We can’t physically get them here, and I can’t give you any names right now, so video clips are the only way to do it.”
All going well, a new community benefit society that has been set up will be the owners and a tenant will run the pub and restaurant with the profits going back into the community.
It would be the first community owned and operated pub/restaurant in Fife and one of only half a dozen in Scotland.
The process started last July, only to be delayed by the pandemic, and they’re hopeful the Red Lion could open under the new model in the summer.
Tim said: “I did a survey in the village to gauge interest and there was not one adverse comment. I know local people will buy shares.
“There’s tremendous goodwill for the Red Lion, it’s an attraction in its own right as it’s a traditional old pub with good food.
“It’s a real asset. The village held pub quizzes there once a month and the money raised went to local voluntary groups, such as the gala committee or community garden projects.
“It’s a hub, a meeting place and has a lot of history attached to it. I’d read that in the 1600s, Lord Elgin bought it for £175 and it was previously a Gothenburg pub too.
“Having been a community pub before, it’s good that it’s coming back to the community.”