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Historic Rayleigh Pub to Close for Major Investment

Work is set to start on a £150,000 revamp of a much-loved historic Rayleigh pub to broaden its appeal and keep it thriving for the long term.

The investment at The Half Moon on the High Street is being undertaken by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and will refurbish the dated local throughout. Sarah Wiseman will take the helm as the pub’s new operator and five jobs will be created. Building work starts on 19th July. The Half Moon will close after last orders on 17thJuly and is scheduled to reopen in mid August.

The project will renovate the outside of the pub – which dates back to the early 1800s - and add new signage and lighting, enhancing the centre of Rayleigh. With a shortage of beer gardens in the middle of town, the pub’s 40-seater garden will also benefit from a makeover including new planting and festoon lighting. 

The internal refurbishment will retain all the character of The Half Moon whilst upgrading it throughout and making it more contemporary. The new décor incorporates wood floors and panelling, leather upholstered seating and pictures of Rayleigh in bygone days to reflect the pub’s heritage. Three distinct areas – a traditional bar, comfortable lounge and a games room – will enable The Half Moon to meet the needs of the whole community. 

To cater for all occasions there will be an extended selection of wines, spirits and cocktails plus a new coffee machine serving hot drinks all day.  Beer and cider lovers have not been forgotten either: a cellar overhaul will install state-of-the-art dispense equipment to ensure consistently perfect pints. 

Sports will remain a feature of The Half Moon, which is the only pub on the High Street with a games area. There will be a new pool table and darts boards as well as a high spec audio-visual system complete with four large screens for showing sports. Sarah is also looking to reinstate the pubs’ many dart teams that disbanded when the pandemic hit. 

Sarah wants The Half Moon to be “a hub of the community” and is planning a myriad of activities ranging from music nights showcasing local talent to quizzes, games evenings and bingo. Says Sarah: “There’ll something different to appeal to everyone at some point during the week.”

Finding the pub is a dream come true for Sarah who is moving from Bedfordshire to take up the role. Explains Sarah: “I’ve had pubs in Essex before and loved it as everyone here is so friendly. I was desperate to move back and have been searching for a pub in the county for months. When I walked into The Half Moon, I knew it was ‘the one’.It’s a beautiful old building with a wonderful atmosphere. It may look tired now but it’ll be stunning when the work is done. I love getting to know people and seeing customers having a good time, so a community local like The Half Moon is perfectAll the regulars have been incredibly welcoming and supportive of the plans. I can’t wait to open the doors.”

Comments Star Pubs & Bars area manager Steve Charlton: “We’re delighted to be investing in such a well-known Rayleigh pub.The refurbishment will bring it into the 21stcentury and give people lots more reasons to visit. Sarah’s experience, passion and exciting plans are just what The Half Moon needs. We wish her all the best.”