A COUPLE who bought a pub in the middle of the pandemic are looking forward to finally reopening next week.

Husband-and-wife team Raymond and Lorna Hart admit pals thought they were “crazy” when they bought Burnham’s Victoria Inn last year.

But now they are set to open for outside trade only when restrictions are lifted on Monday.

The couple have given the pub a complete overhaul.

They have been putting the final touches to the renovations and are looking forward to seeing pubgoers enjoying themselves this summer.

Chelmsford Weekly News: Lorna and Ray Hart behind the bar of the Victoria Inn pub in BurnhamLorna and Ray Hart behind the bar of the Victoria Inn pub in Burnham

Raymond, 43, and Lorna, 50, from Romford formed the idea while sitting outside a pub in Tillingham in 2019.

Raymond said: “We had just looked at a house and were discussing the long commute we would both have to work when Lorna said, ‘what we should do is buy a pub instead of a house then we would not need to commute’.

Lorna added: “I’m the daughter of a publican and spent most of my childhood in pubs so buying a pub was always something I had thought about.

They planned their search after a few months.

Raymond has given up his old career as a print finisher and is worked on getting The Victoria Inn open while Lorna has kept her job as a Radio Station Manager in Romford where she runs Time 107.5 FM.

But after a few months of research, the pandemic slowed down their plans.

Lorna said: ‘’We did put everything on hold for a couple of months, but then when The Victoria Inn became available, we just had to go for it.

“This is our ideal location; we love Burnham and the brewery Gray and Sons are the best brewery to work with.

“People thought we were crazy buying into this industry when it is so uncertain, but it has given us time to refurbish the pub and really make it our own.’’

Raymond added: “It is very different around here to Romford where we were living, and the community have welcomed us with open arms.

“It’s been really amazing, and I don’t miss anything about my old life… well, except football every Saturday.

“I’m a massive Leyton Orient fan, but once we get settled Lorna has promised to give me Saturdays off!”

Both bars have had a complete makeover, the furniture has been recycled, and the old carpet has been taken up, exposing the now refurbished wood flooring.

Take a look at some of the changes inside and out:

Chelmsford Weekly News: Saloon barSaloon bar

Chelmsford Weekly News: Fire place area in saloon barFire place area in saloon bar

Chelmsford Weekly News: Behind the saloon barBehind the saloon bar

Chelmsford Weekly News: Bar area in sports barBar area in sports bar

Chelmsford Weekly News: Sports bar with the big screen downSports bar with the big screen down

Chelmsford Weekly News: The beer garden gazeboThe beer garden gazebo

The pub will be opening its beer garden with new seating and umbrellas on Monday but customers will have to wait until May to get inside.