The battle to save one of North Yorkshire’s oldest pubs has been boosted by a £330,000 Government grant to help buy it and convert the premises into a community-owned pub, bistro and coffee shop.

The Henry Jenkins Inn, in Kirkby Malzeard, has been closed for more than ten years as a developer works to turn it into housing, and villagers campaign to reopen it for the community.

It had been a pub for more than 250 years and is named after a legendary character who is supposed to have lived to be 169.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Hopes are growing the Henry Jenkins can be saved for the community

Now the Levelling Up Minister has announced a £330,000 grant from the Community Ownership Fund (COF) towards buying the property.

Richard Sadler, chair of the Henry Jenkins Community Pub Ltd, said: "We’re delighted that the Minister and the COF team have recognised that we’ve put forward a realistic and properly-costed business plan for the purchase and refurbishment of this important local asset. Together with more than £200,000-worth of pledged community shares from local people, this puts us in a strong position to do something exceptional.

“We’re convinced that the revival of this historic building as a community-owned facility can make a huge difference to our village by creating an exciting new social space, bringing people together and helping to kick start the regeneration of the local economy.”

There are still obstacles to overcome, and the owner of the pub has so far refused to sell the property. Mr Sadler said six offers to buy it by the Henry Jenkins Community Pub group have been rejected and permission for a site survey refused.

He said the pub had now fallen into a dilapidated state, with the interior stripped out, a collapsed roof and overgrown beer garden. He added: "Through our local ward councillor, we have begun preliminary discussions with North Yorkshire Council over a proposed compulsory purchase order to break the deadlock and secure the Henry Jenkins for future generations.

"We would like to make clear that we still regard compulsory purchase as a last resort. We are always open to discussions with the owner over purchase of the site but we will only pay a fair market price and so would need his permission for a proper valuation and structural survey."

The application for money under the Community Ownership Fund was put in by community pub group treasurer, Andy Taylor, who said: "We burned the midnight oil to get our COF application in shape and I’m enormously proud that we’ve been selected for grant approval.

"There is a lot to do including raising the funds pledged by our membership but this vote of confidence from the Government will get some real impetus behind the campaign to restore the Henry Jenkins as a much-loved community asset in the village."