IF she were just a few years younger, Joan Horne might just do the job herself.
The task in question being bringing a once-thriving village pub back to life.
And it’s a job which seems to be beyond the reach of many others saddened by the sight of the old Fountain Inn at Ingbirchworth.
Weed-strewn, surrounded by security gates, roof leaking and dilapidated, the old wool trail inn is a shadow of its former self.
“I am absolutely appalled by what is happening to the pub now,” said Mrs Horne, who is coming up to 90.
She can recall the glory days when Christmas wasn’t Christmas unless you had been to the legendary carol-singing on Boxing Day. “It was so busy we used to have to go outside to collect the glasses,” says Mrs Horne, who worked at the Fountain for much of her younger life.
The pub was run by relatives of Mrs Horne for many years from the late 1890s. Archie and Grace Moorhouse were related to Mrs Horne’s mother, Sarah Barratt. She married Norman Green and Mrs Horne was brought up around Ingbirchworth reservoir where her dad was the ‘water man’ for more than 40 years.
“I was going into the Fountain when I was a baby,” she says, “and I am now in my 90th year.”
Norman Green lodged at the pub so he could take up work at the reservoir, which was being dug out, and he married Sarah in 1926.
“I worked at the Fountain for years and years,” says Mrs Horne, who now lives in Birdsedge. “I did everything cooked, cleaned. I even ran the place at one point.”
In 1945, the Fountain was sold for £2,500 after Grace and Archie retired. Ted and Betty Parker took it on, but the pub began to go downhill.
“I would have bought it myself but I just didn’t have the money,” says Mrs Horne, who has been married three times and has five children and seven grandchildren.
Eventually, the Parkers went to Devon and Mrs Horne and her husband went with them, to work in Exmouth for ten years. She moved back to this area in 1988.
The last time she went to the Fountain was around two years ago when the pub was running a Monday meal special deal.
“It was lovely,” she recalls. “We had a good meal and the pub was busy.”
Not long afterwards, the Fountain closed its doors and has remained shut ever since.
Mrs Horne is in no doubt as to the reason for the pub’s demise. “What has gone wrong is what has gone wrong with so many pubs - the rents are too high,” she says.
She remembers being taken on a tour of the building when the owner at the time opened up ten hotel bedrooms.
“When it went wrong I thought I could come and get it back on its feet with the help of my family and I still think that sometimes,” she says.
“I would love to end my days in a pub.”
A few months ago, Penistone ward councillor Hannah Kitching raised the prospect of the Fountain being bought by the community for use as a village facility. The idea was popular but it was accepted that the costs would be colossal.
However, Gunthwaite and Ingbirchworth parish council succeeded in getting protected status for the pub so they will have to be notified of any intention by owners Enterprise Inns to sell the site for housing.
“I heard about the councillor’s idea and agree totally,” says Mrs Horne. “In Ingbirchworth there is no chapel, no shop, no pub. Open it up. It should be given to the village.
“I was there for the Boxing Day carols. The place was heaving. It was a brilliant pub in those days.
“At one time the Fountain had everything. I can still remember what it was like originally.
“I worked there. My daughters worked there. We are steeped in it.”