A COUPLE running a pub near Blunsdon Railway will raise a toast to the reopening of a bridge that makes it easier for customers to pop in for a pint.

The Bell stands to gain when Tadpole Bridge, which has been closed for seven months, is reopened to the public on February 1.

Jason and Jackie Pritchett have run The Bell at Purton Stoke for five years and are hoping that North Swindon will once again take to its cars and come and visit, as it is less than four miles away.

“We’ve missed some customers as it was a long detour to get to us,” Jackie said.

“Now the bridge will soon be open again and we can’t wait to welcome them back.”

These customers might see a few changes to their liking. Arkell’s Brewery, which owns the pub, has recently added a new skittle alley, which Jackie says is a huge success.

“We’ve got our own pub skittles team, and a lot of other teams including the VWH Hunt that base themselves here at the pub,” she said.

“Skittles nights have a great atmosphere.”

Arkell’s has also made use of the field behind the pub and The Bell now has hard standing for caravans and plenty of space for caravan rallies.

“These days, village pubs have to work hard to attract customers, so when Tadpole Bridge closed we knew it could affect us,” said Jackie.

“Luckily we have a loyal group of customers from Purton Stoke, Cricklade, Purton and Cirencester, but we sometimes want to stand outside the pub and call out ‘stop by and buy a pint’ because I know when they do, they’ll be back again and again.”

Brewery director George Arkell, said: ‘”The re-opening of Tadpole Bridge should really benefit the pub especially as Jason and Jackie are fantastic landlords who’ve made The Bell a wonderful, warm and welcoming place to visit.”

The Victorian bridge, which is the subject of a preservation order, was found to be more complex in its construction than first thought, leading it to be closed for months.

The lane has been shut between the Oakhurst roundabout and the B4553 since May 2012.

Repairs have been carried out on the bridges that carry the road over the River Ray and the Swindon and Cricklade railway.

It had originally been hoped to complete the work by the end of 2012.