THE new landlord of a Forest pub which was closed for four years had hoped for a quiet re-opening over Christmas - but it was packed with locals within the hour.

The Cross Inn at Aylburton opened its doors under new management on Friday, December 16.

The bar and restaurant closed in 2018 and was clearly missed by the local community, with villagers and people from further afield flocking to see the recently-refurbished pub, which dates back to the 18th century.

The pub was bought in 2019 by family-run chain Quality Inns, but its re-opening was delayed by the pandemic.

Owner Ward Hogben, who also runs the White Hart at Broadoak near Newnham, said they’d aimed to be open in time for Christmas.

He said: “We tried to keep it a little bit on the hush so we weren’t inundated straight away.

“We opened the doors at 4.30pm and by 5.30pm the pub was full.”

Ward says he hopes to open the pub as much as possible over the next week, and offer food again in January once they’ve recruited more staff.

He said of their journey so far: “We took over in 2019 and then Covid happened.

“I run the White Hart at Broadoak so I know the area and I thought it could be the pub of the community again.

“Its good for the villagers to have their pub back – we’d been asked a lot about it beforehand.

“We are trying to open as much as possible over Christmas.

“We are trying to recruit some more people – we already have some great people and we need a few more and then we’ll get the kitchen open and do food in January.”