Numbers of community owned pubs in England have doubled in two years

Posted on the 12th September 2019

Figures show there are 120 community-owned pubs in England.

For Communities Week, Campaign for Real Ale, (CAMRA) has revealed that the number of community-owned pubs in England is estimated by them to have doubled in two years, and highlighted some examples of thriving community-owned pubs across England. The growth has been partly due to the More Than A Pub scheme which is funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

CAMRA Chairman, Nik Antona said:

“Pubs play a vital role at the heart of many communities, providing vital services, combating social isolation and holding community and charity events. This Communities Week, CAMRA wants to highlight the growing numbers of community-owned pubs across the country, where local people have come together to buy and craft the perfect pub for their community.

“As it stands today, CAMRA has identified 120 community-owned pubs across England, with a further 18 active campaigns in the pipeline. This doubles the 60 that we were aware of in 2016.

“The fast rise in community ownership is amazing news for locals, as we are not aware of a single community-owned pub closing – despite knowing that pub numbers have been reducing for many years, we think that community owned pubs are here to stay.

“We are delighted that MHCLG recognise this, and continue to contribute funds towards the More Than A Pub scheme to help more communities buy their local.”

Case studies

Anglers Rest, Bamford

The Anglers Rest became the first community owned pub in Derbyshire in 2013. As well as the pub, the building houses a cafe and the village post office. Rave reviews on TripAdviser tell you all you need to know about how well it is doing.

The pub had been shut in early 2012 after a succession of unsuccessful tenancies. Several local people came together and formed the Bamford Community Society (BCS) and got the pub registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). BCS raised funds so that, as and when the pub came on the market, they could use the ACV process to bid for it. There was a hiccup when the pub was sold as a going concern to a third party. BCS protested so strongly that the pub owner rescinded their decision and sold it to BCS after all.

George and Dragon, Hudswell

The George & Dragon is the only pub in Hudswell and the first community owned public house in North Yorkshire. It was also selected as CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year in 2016, the first community owned pub to win the award. It is a regional finalist in the 2019 competition.

When the George & Dragon pub in Hudswell closed in 2008, it left the small North Yorkshire village with no other facilities for its residents apart from a village hall. Within two years, the community banded together to form the Hudswell Community Pub Ltd group and bought back the pub, re-opening in June 2010 after extensive renovations.

The community was determined that the George & Dragon would offer far more than a traditional pub. As well as acting as a meeting place and venue, it is also home to the village library, a local shop staffed by volunteers, community allotments and free internet access for its patrons.

The Drovers Inn, Gussage All Saints

The Drovers Inn was saved and renovated by the community and is now a bustling pub that serves food, offers accommodation, hosts weddings, offers stabling and horse parking areas and gets the occasional car club dropping in for the afternoon. A 45-minute drive from Bournemouth, it’s the perfect pub to spend an early Autumn afternoon.

In 2014 the pub was closed and boarded up, and a planning application to turn the pub into a house was submitted, but over 200 local residents objected. In 2015 a group of locals mounted a campaign to save the pub, list it as an ACV and form the Gussage Community Benefit Society. The planning application was refused by the council, and the purchase was completed in March 2016. Locals helped the contractors with the renovations before the pub reopened.

The Butchers Arms, Crosby Ravensworth

The Butchers Arms is in the Lyvennet valley in Cumbria. Along with the usual food service and quality beer, the Butchers features a “Coffee and Cake Lounge” upstairs for the locals to use for a catch-up.

The pub has been owned by the community since 2011, after closing in 2009 when its owners retired. The ‘Save the Butchers Arms’ campaign launch in 2010. Funding for the eventual purchase was through selling shares and obtaining grants, including from local councils. The pub was officially opened by a shareholder who lived in Australia, and flew all the way to Cumbria for the event.

The New Inn, Manaccan

The New Inn was the first community owned pub in Cornwall, around 20km from Penzance. A popular pub with walkers and tourists, the pub also hosts local events such as coffee mornings, carols at Christmas and a beer festival.

The pub was bought from Punch Taverns in 2014 by local residents and supporters from across the country, having been closed for two years.

The Bevy, Brighton

The Bevy, Brighton is the UK’s first co-operative pub on a housing estate. It is funded by over 700 shareholders and was re-built and decorated by an army of volunteers. Today, it still relies on these volunteers to chip-in with the day-to-day running of the pub, whether that’s mowing the lawn, touching up some painting, or glass collecting when they’re busy.

They successfully raised £200,000 to reopen the pub back in 2014, and a £175,000 grant enabled them to do even more. They now have their own wheelchair accessible ‘Bevy Bus’ that picks up local residents for their Friday lunch club, brings their sponsored university rugby team back to the Bevy post-matches, and takes Albion fans to every home league game. They’ve also built a training kitchen, where they’re teaching young people to cook, spruced up their edible pub garden, and introduced a £3.50 community meal every weekday lunchtime.

The Antwerp Arms, Tottenham

The Antwerp Arms is the first community pub in North London. It is a thriving local near White Hart Lane which hosts charity quizzes, community lunches, meetups for local community groups and more.

Enterprise Inns put this much-loved local up for sale in June 2013. The pub was likely to become housing, so the community listed it as an Asset of Community Value. In October 2013 it was bought by a developer and put back on the market. The Antwerp Arms Association (AAA) was formed and triggered the Community Right to Bid process. 360 local people bought shares, raising £150k and a capital grant of £285k was secured. In November 2014, AAA’s offer was accepted.

The Plough, West Hanney

The Plough is a few miles from Wantage in the Oxfordshire countryside. The pub hosts live music and has all the features you would want in a classic country pub, including a large beer garden for summer, and a real fire in winter.

A cooperative of local villagers purchased the pub in 2015 from Punch Taverns, determined to refurbish the building and turn it into a true community asset. It’s now a part of the Oxfordshire Community Pub Network, which brews their own beers to serve in member pubs.

The Duke of Marlborough, Sommersham

The Duke of Marlborough is a 15th century, Grade II listed pub in Suffolk. It is run by a mixture of paid staff and dedicated volunteers from the local community who simply just love the pub. Recently they hosted a beer and street food festival over the Bank Holiday weekend, but also have a weekly quiz, music nights and cooking demonstrations.

The pub is the only one in the village, and it was closed in 2015. The community missed their local, and set up the ‘Save the Duke’ campaign. The group were helped by the Plunkett Foundation to get set up and start raising money. In 2017, they bought the pub. Anyone is still welcome to invest in shares in the pub through their website.

The Rose and Crown, Slaley

The Rose and Crown is a pub in Northumberland, within an hour’s drive of Hadrian’s Wall. The pub offers overnight accommodation and has a garden with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. In true Northumberland style, the Rose and Crown hosts an annual Burns Night supper.

A cooperative called Slaley Community Assets Ltd was formed when the pub came under threat and bought the pub in 2013.

CAMRA’s list of community owned pubs, and more resources for groups looking to take their local into community ownership are available on the CAMRA website.

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