Community-owned pub The Butchers Arms set to open on Saturday 27 August
It has been all hands to the pump in a Cumbrian village in readiness for the official re-opening of The Butchers Arms after villagers fighting to save the pub succeeded in raising the money to buy, refurbish and re-open their local.
The campaign led by determined residents from Crosby Ravensworth encouraged almost 300 people to buy a share in the traditional Cumbrian pub, investing a minimum of £250 to raise the £300,000 needed to help to put the heart back into the community.
With support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, the determined community registered as a co-operative - The Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd – and, after an offer to buy the pub for £255,000 was accepted by the vendor (March 2011), launched a community share issue to generate the money needed.
The pub had been closed for almost 12 months however, over recent weeks, it has felt the benefit of community co-operation with volunteers carrying out the gardening, plumbing, building, decorating, electrical and carpentry tasks needed.
The pub has been rewired, the beer-garden overhauled and, a full commercial kitchen has been created. The installation of new log burners and an impressive oak bar completed the transformation.
Officially opening The Butchers Arms is John Stubbs who is flying in especially from Victoria (Australia). John grew up in the pub when his mother, Olive, owned it between 1958-78. John bought shares in the new enterprise after hearing about the campaign to save his former home.
John Stubbs – who left Crosby Ravensworth almost 40 years ago, commented: “I’m certain my mother would be thrilled if she knew that The Butchers Arms was getting a new lease of life with such enthusiastic support from the local community.”
Cameron Smith, treasurer of the new co-operative, said: “This has been an incredible community project to be involved in and, this pub will now benefit from having around 300 ‘co-owners’ committed to its future success. It has brought our community together in many different ways and, the support already received from volunteers and trades could not have been better.
“We have been overwhelmed with the interest in the project. We have shareholders coming from all corners of the UK and even have a waiting list of potential investors for future share allocations. Around half of our members are local but we have had investors from as far afield as Alaska, America and Australia.
“Our aim has always been quite simple: to buy, refurbish and re-open a traditional Cumbrian pub that will source locally and support the local community and economy wherever possible, selling good quality food, real ales, and offering a warm welcome to all.”
Michael Fairclough, Head of Community and Campaigns at The Co-operative Group - which has committed £7.5 million over the next three years to develop The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and provide the training, advice and business consultancy needed to create and grow sustainable member-owned enterprises - said: “The co-operative model offers an alternative way to do business, a robust approach to enterprise that can contribute to the re-building of a more balanced and sustainable economy."
Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of rural communities charity the Plunkett Foundation, added: "Local pubs represent a vital lifeline in rural villages. With around 700 rural pubs closing each year, it's fantastic to see yet more communities turning to community-ownership as a solution to the problems they face."
New landlords, Keith Taylor and Bev Percy, concluded: “We have been amazed by the dedication and efforts of the community and volunteers. Seeing all of the recent activity has confirmed our view that The Butchers will once again be a successful pub and, to have 300 shareholders with an interest in the success of the enterprise is an excellent position to start from.”
For more information about The Butchers Arms visit www.lyvennetcommunitypub.com or, call David Graham on 01931 715348 or Kitty Smith on 01931 715375.