The Craufurd Arms was named runner-up in the Campaign for Real Ale’s prestigious Pub Saving Award for 2017. The award marks the latest achievement for the pub’s management team who have transformed the pub’s fortunes in less than a year.

On Friday (9 Feb) representatives from CAMRA will be at The Craufurd Arms to present the award to management committee chairman, Mark Newcombe. It promises to be another busy night at the pint-sized community pub as the presentation will be followed by live reggae and soul music from the Marley Motown Experience.

For Newcombe and his fellow committee members it promises to be a moment to savour and one which seemed unlikely when efforts began to save the pub just 18 months ago.

“The Craufurd was looking pretty much doomed when we had our first meeting. Now the place is transformed – busier than ever - and this award is recognition of how far we have come,” said Mr Newcombe.

In the space of less than a year, and thanks to several grants, social investment loans and a community share offer scheme which raised more than £510K, the pub was purchased off a guide price of £325K. Since the first pint of the new era was pulled in June last year, the success story has continued.

The Craufurd Arms was listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2018 and narrowly missed out on being voted Maidenhead Pub of the Year in the Advertiser’s annual poll.

But the most important measure of success has been the significant growth in the number of people coming through the door.

“Pubs are about people,” said Newcombe. “This happened because a group of us didn’t want to see the Craufurd go the same way as hundreds of other pubs up and down the country.

The Craufurd Arms built its fundraising effort and business plan on the basis of putting the pub at the heart of the community. A strategy which has proved successful and earned praise from its customers and the Prime Minister Theresa May, who wrote to pledge her support.

In the pub’s compact bar, which has recently had a makeover after years of neglect, there is often a genuine mix of people young and old and from all walks of life. The pub has a thriving social scene ranging from darts, cribbage and a weekly quiz to live music nights and karaoke.

Regulars have also extended the hand of friendship to other groups seeking to prevent their pubs from closure. And word of the Craufurd Arms’ extraordinary revival is spreading. The story has been featured on BBC Radio 4, local radio and in the national press.

And away supporters from several National League teams visiting Maidenhead to watch football have been welcomed to the Craufurd for a pre-match pint.

It is a satisfying moment for Newcombe and his fellow committee members. “There’s been a lot of hard work and it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but we’ve got a thriving community pub with a great future which we can all be very proud of”

On March 20th the Craufurd Arms society is holding an AGM at St Piran’s School. New committee members will be elected to steer the pub through the next phase of its revival and development.