Community pubs are bucking the national trend – while almost a quarter of privately-owned pubs have shut down since 2008 community pubs have a 100% success rate. We see the benefits they bring to communities. So often, they are much, much more than a pub, they are the beating heart of a village.
The Spotted Cow at Holbrook is a great example of this. Two years ago, we were glad to support them with a loan of £125,000. The Society had raised funds to buy their pub but hadn’t enough money to renovate – and as it had been entirely stripped by receivers, it badly needed the help. We spoke to Stephanie Limb there to find out how they are getting on, two years down the line.
The Society – 225 local members and investors – planned to refit the pub, create a café area and a guest room, and they needed every stick of furniture and piece of equipment to do that. The renovations provided a great opportunity for the community to get together. As Stephanie says, ‘we would have struggled if we didn’t have so many fabulous volunteers. They did all kinds of things – joinery, decorating – and saved us loads of money’.
The Grand Opening was scheduled for the 15th July and slightly later than hoped, the kitchen was fitted the day before. ‘It was quite crazy’ remembers Stephanie, ‘it was fine while we were serving cakes but when it came to people ordering food, we had to learn quickly how to cook everything in our brand new kitchen!’
Fast forward to today, two years in, and the pub is doing well. Owned by The Holbrook Community Society, it’s run by the appropriately named husband-and-wife team, landlord and landlady Paul and Cheryl Brew – chosen by the Society because they understood the vision of an evolving model that caters for what the community needs.
Alongside the pub, there’s also The Spotted Calf – also owned by the Society – a community café and hub using local suppliers and that much wanted guest room. It houses a Post Office, which was to be lost to the village, benefiting the community both by keeping money in local circulation, as well as keeping people connected.
Plans for the future are to increase trading with more events, which the Society know bring people together, reduce isolation and strengthen connection. Stephanie has just started on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Power to Change Community Trade Up programme to support this work,
If you’re near Holbrook this weekend, join in the birthday celebrations. On Friday after school, there’s face painting and balloon modelling and then on Saturday, there’s a big breakfast event. And further into the future, watch out for the Damson Fair – this almost 100 year old autumn event has been revived by the Society, celebrating the local connection to damsons, previously used as dyestuff in local stocking factories. The last Damson Fair was held in 1920 – we’re marking our diary for the 100 year event in 2020.
We’re sure you’ll join us in wishing the team at Holbrook a happy second birthday – and wherever you are in the country, find more community businesses here