Another village pub saved by community ownership

The residents of the small village of Winterbourne Bassett in Wiltshire are celebrating a new acquisition – their local pub, which has been bought by a community benefit society set up just five months ago. Many of the ‘new owners’ gathered in the pub last weekend to toast their success and start the refurbishment. One of their first decisions was to give the pub a new name: The Winterbourne.

The pub, formerly known as The White Horse, is the only meeting place in the village apart from the church. There are no shops or community buildings, so when Wadworth Brewery put the pub up for sale the local people knew they had to save it.

They received specialist advice and finance from the More Than A Pub programme, which was set up in 2016 to support community ownership of pubs in England. This programme is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Power to Change, and is delivered by the Plunkett Foundation. Co-operative & Community Finance arranges loan finance for groups that have successfully attracted local investment, usually in the form of community shares.

Winterbourne Bassett Community Pub Ltd raised £450,000 in total through a combination of investment, grants and loans. The pub is going to undergo significant refurbishment, including a new roof and kitchen, before it reopens for business. Other plans include a children’s playground and in time, a small shop. The society is advertising for a tenant to run the pub.

Adrian Smith, Secretary of the society, said “We’ve got a lot to do before the pub will be open for business, but we are sure it will be worth it and we are developing great a new food and drink offering as a Freehouse. We want the pub to become a genuine community venue and we are committed to making a success of it by providing what local people want. We are for grateful for the support we have had from Co-operative & Community Finance.”

Co-operative & Community Finance’s Business Development Manager Tim Coomer said: “We have a lot of experience of lending to community-owned pubs and this is another strong group. The five-month turnaround time from start to completion has been particularly impressive.”