A POPULAR pub will reopen six weeks after the building’s interior was damaged following a fire which started in the bar area.

The White Swan, in Ovingham, closed on October 27 after a blaze, believed to have started through an electrical fault, broke out just after 12.30am.

But the licensees have announced that the pub is expected to be back open before the festive period, and have set an opening date of Thursday, December 12, at 5pm.

Licensee John Sharkey said: “It’s hard to explain, but we were devastated about the fire and my first concern was for the family which was asleep upstairs.

“We wanted to get the pub reopened not just for ourselves for the business, but also for the community because it’s the only pub in the village and a lot of people have been missing it.

“It’s been fantastic to get all the nice messages we have been getting while we’ve been closed, and when we put thing on Facebook we reached 25,000 people because of people liking, sharing and commenting on the posts.

“The support we have received has been great, and it is such a tremendous pub which is very well supported not just by the people of Ovingham but from the wider area, with people from coming from all over.”

As a result of the fire, substantial damage was caused to the property.

The bar, dining area and kitchen areas of the pub were affected, as was the living quarters of the family.

A widescale refurbishment was needed to bring the pub back up to scratch, and Mr Sharkey was very pleased with how quickly Star Pubs and Bars, a branch of Heineken UK, had carried out the work.

He said: “I have to say how fantastic the brewery has been by putting a squad of people in so quickly and it has been such a quick turnaround.

“Workers were in within a couple of days and we’ve all worked hard to make sure we can reopen as soon as possible.

“The original date for reopening was December 16, but it’s been brought forward because the work is so well on and we thought we might as well try to get an extra weekend out of it.”

While the refurbishment has been taking place, the family have had to live away from the pub but were set to move back in this week.