Residents of the Waveney Valley on the borders of Norfolk and Suffolk rallied together at impressive speed despite the restrictions of a global pandemic to purchase and renovate iconic riverside pub The Locks Inn.
The community benefit society that now owns the popular ex-mill and lock keeper’s cottage turned public house at Geldeston raised over £600,000 from an incredible 1,400 shareholders in just three months.
As well as through word of mouth in the local community, the campaign garnered enthusiastic support on social media with the pub’s first Facebook post being shared over 1,600 times, reaching over 100,000 people and gathering 355 comments of support leading to shareholders and donations coming from as far afield as Australia and Canada. The pub with local funding has worked with the local parish church of Beccles to purchase unwanted pews to help with additional seating keeping in line with the original furniture and keeping local.
Committee Member Christine Pinsent said: “The response from the share issue has been overwhelming and we have been inundated with volunteers due to fantastic memories local residents have of the pub.”
The group also received support from the More Than A Pub programme, which provides free advice and webinars, bursaries, grants and loans to communities seeking to buy their local, as well as those who are already trading. The programme is funded by Power to Change and is delivered by Plunkett Foundation working in partnership with Co-operative & Community Finance and the Key Fund.
Refurbishments are underway and members intend to use the More Than A Pub loan from Co-operative & Community Finance to advance two major projects in updating the sewerage system and access to the national grid. Christine Pinsent said: “The support from the More Than A Pub programme has been fantastic and has really helped us through the process.”
The first community owned pub in the Waveney Valley will be accessible to all, promoting social inclusion and involving all ages, with everyone able to have a say in the running of the pub and all the activities that are delivered.
The idyllic large outdoor space by the river makes the pub a popular stop off point for people visiting by boat while also attracting walkers, cyclists and visitors from local camping sites. The committee will also resurrect music and local traditional events making the pub fully inclusive and financially viable for the long-term future.
The Locks Inn Community Pub will open its doors to the public on 13 May after having three days beforehand to welcome shareholders to their pub.
Ian Rothwell, Investment Manager of Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “This is a lovely pub in a beautiful setting which is appreciated by local people, walkers, cyclists and boaters. With regular events such as beer festivals, story nights, musical performances and sessions the Locks Inn is a destination pub and certainly one that I will visit again once restrictions are eased.”