Hudswell Community Pub Limited was created to save the only pub in the village of Hudswell, North Yorkshire.
The George and Dragon closed down in 2008. There were several reasons for its closure –amongst them, the economic downturn hitting all businesses: the same year 1,866 pubs had been closed. However, the villagers refused to lose this emblematic place, so a group of people got together to re-open it.
One year later, in 2009, those who wanted to save the old pub joined to set up an Industrial and Provident Society for community benefit and proposed to issue a community share offer to raise the money to buy the business. “At first the bank that owned the property didn’t take our offer seriously,” said Martin Booth, a member of the co-operative.
It was not easy, but they finally succeeded. In two years’ time, they were ready to re-open The George and Dragon.
Now, since 12th June 2010, Hudswell Community Pub Limited runs what wants to remain as a real centre of village life. “We want the business to be a success and to be profitable, but for our members it was providing a centre for community activity and working together to achieve a collective goal that are the most important aspects of what we are" said Martin Booth.
The co-operative is formed by 202 members who have invested over £250,000. Any person or organisation can become a member by purchasing shares – the minimum investment is £500 and the maximum £20,000–, although the co-operative’s rules state that at least 40% of the shareholders must live in the parish of Hudswell.
The all share the ownership of this venue for local pastimes, events and celebrations, and, in order to make it profitable, they have widened the range of services they provide. Apart from the traditional pub selling ales from local brewers, the pub has a library and offers free internet access. It also runs a shop to sell local produce and has allotments that provide vegetables and fruits for the pub and the shop. Actually, the co-operative plans to grow the business providing bed and breakfast accommodation in the near future.
There are other communities following this example: The Butchers Arms, Crosby Ravensworth (Cumbria), has raised £230,000 from a share issue and will re-open in August 2011; The Travellers Rest, Skeeby, North Yorkshire, is currently seeking member investment; and The Forester’s Arm, Coverdale, has got £220,000 of pledges.
“We want the business to be a success and to be profitable, but for our members it was providing a centre for community activity and working together to achieve a collective goal that are the most important aspects of what we are" said Martin Booth, a founding member of the co-operative. I do think this is a very good way of saving the village pub and I’d be very happy for others to learn from us,” said Martin Booth