500-year-old inn secures new investment for community

A 500-year-old Inn saved by its residents in 2018 has secured a new funding package enabling the community pub to thrive as it enters a new chapter under new management.

Located in the heart of Ash near Sandwich in Kent, the Chequer Inn is a country pub that has been serving drinks and its community since 1674 welcoming locals, walkers and even four legged friends. The pub received specialist advice and finance from the More Than a Pub programme in 2018 and along with a successful share offer coming in from all around the world – from Alaska to Australia, via North Carolina, Scotland and Yorkshire – the pub was saved by residents and stopped from being developed into housing.

Re-opening in May 2019, the pub encountered some difficult times as the country was plunged into the Covid pandemic and lockdown resulting in the closure of the pub in January 2022. The community and the pub’s society has since rallied together and installed a new tenant responsible for the day-to-day management of the pub. Local businessman Nick Turner-Brown (who manages a number of other successful pubs in the region) has made much needed positive changes including a new and improved food menu as well as service quality the pub can be proud of ensuring long-term growth and a sustainable future for the pub and its residents.

Jane Greaves, Secretary for the Chequer Inn Ash Society said: “This refinancing by Co-operative & Community Finance of the Chequer Inn, Ash, enables us to enter a new phase of community ownership with confidence. We have been impressed by the support we have received from Kevin Lloyd-Evans but above all his genuine interest in the community, the property and our plans for the future of the Chequers. We would urge other communities keen to save their ‘local’ to seek assistance from the Plunkett Foundation.”

Co-operative & Community Finance were pleased to help secure funding for the Chequer Inn as a second loan following on from their ‘More Than a Pub’ legacy scheme in 2019. Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Lending and Relationship Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance said: “We are delighted to be able to support The Chequer Inn Ash Community Pub. We are helping clients with their debt structures to ensure affordability and long-term sustainability. The current challenges within the hospitality sector are well documented. We are supporting the development of the community shares market by listening, consulting and responding to needs. Community ownership and control are at the heart of our mission, values and plans moving forward.”

The legacy ‘More Than a Pub Fund’ scheme provides loan finance of between £75,000 to £150,000 available to Community Owned Pubs at a discounted rate of interest for members of the Plunkett Foundation, length of term ranges from five to twenty years. Co-operative & Community Finance also helps support groups to access grant funding to help them develop business plans and pay for surveys through the Reach Fund. Please contact Co-operative & Community Finance for the full terms and conditions, and to discuss how your Community Owned Pub venture can be supported.

You can find out more about The Chequer Inn pub by visiting their website.

The Chequer Inn Ash Society story can be viewed on www.savethechequerinn.co.uk while the society await a new web site going forward.