Campaign launched to raise £1.75 million to protect St Albans’ Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

PUBLISHED: 10:22 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:52 30 July 2020

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. Picture: Danny Loo

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2018

A £1.75 million fundraising campaign has been raised to help one of Britain’s oldest pubs, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, to continue fighting for generations to come.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser WhieldonYe Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser Whieldon

This latest announcement comes following the COVID-19 crisis, which owner Christo Toffali says taught him he should not “put things off until tomorrow”.

The fundraising drive is aimed at helping the award-winning pub, which dates back to the 8th century, to double its available seating, and therefore dramatically improve its chances of making it through the current crisis.

A model of the refurbishments being planned for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.A model of the refurbishments being planned for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

Christo has been at the helm of the pub since 2012 and has overseen its many changes and investment arrangements.

He has helped establish it as a popular community pub as well as an historic attraction that draws visitors from all over the world.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser WhieldonYe Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser Whieldon

He said: “These expansion plans have been my dream for many years – we need the extra space to ensure the pub’s financial security.

“The expansion gives us more dining options and flexibility, and will ensure that the pub will be robust enough to weather any storm and still be standing in another 1,000 years.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser WhieldonYe Olde Fighting Cocks model. Photo: Fraser Whieldon

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“What COVID has taught me is that you mustn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and this is why we are launching this fundraising campaign now to give the community and beyond the chance to have a stake in the future of Britain’s oldest pub.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans.Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans.

“These pub walls have survived civil wars, world wars and plagues but this pandemic has really highlighted the challenges that we face, but also it has made me appreciate how much we can do for our local community.”

When the lockdown started, staff pivoted the business into a Pub Community Supply Point overnight, using the existing supply chains to bring fresh produce to the local community, and particularly to elderly and vulnerable customers.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Landlord Christo Tofalli outside the pub which is in line for a £1 million revamp. Picture: Danny LooYe Olde Fighting Cocks Landlord Christo Tofalli outside the pub which is in line for a £1 million revamp. Picture: Danny Loo

“Only days before that, we had been welcoming international visitors who had come to St Albans to enjoy a pint in Britain’s oldest pub”, Christo added.

The appeal for help to raise £1.75 million has been launched, with the view to start the expansion plans next year.

The expansion will add 68 seated covers inside and 120 outside, along with additional space for standing. There will also be full disabled access to every part of the pub as well as a Changing Places facility, which features full disabled toilet facilities with bench and hoist.

The total extension will see a third entrance added where the kitchen is currently located. The kitchen will be moved, enlarged and will be hidden from view when the extension is completed and will also house state-of-the-art facilities that will allow the pub team to deliver its food and drink offering quicker during its busier times.

Christo added: “Any amount of money, no matter how small, will be the step in the right direction for securing the future of Britain’s oldest pub. It will also see you take your place in the history books, helping to preserve this historic building for generations to enjoy.”

To find out more about the expansion plans and how you can help them to raise the £1.75 million to make this dream become a reality, go to yeoldefightingcocks.co.uk.


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