Lyvennet Community Pub

Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd, Registered with the Financial Services Authority, An Industrial and Provident Society - Register № 31175R


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ABOUT LYVENNET COMMUNITY PUB LTD

The Lyvennet Community Pub (LCP) Ltd was formed to purchase and re-open the Butcher’s Arms, the only pub in Crosby Ravensworth, Cumbria.  It had been a very busy and successful pub in the past, but with the illness of the owners its trade declined and the pub closed in 2009.  

The proposal to form a co-operative to purchase and re-open the Butcher’s Arms was initiated by the Lyvennet Community Trust. The Trust was established in January 2009 following the publication of the Community Plan and Housing Needs Survey and it has since been working on a number of initiatives including the provision of affordable housing in the area.


 


When the pub closed the need to reopen the Butcher’s Arms was raised by a number of residents as an issue that the Trust should address.  

The LCT group explored the Hesket Newmarket model where the community formed a cooperative and bought and now run “The Old Crown” pub. There is little doubt that this approach had been extremely successful with the pub building a new restaurant and enlarging the kitchens with a resultant significant turnover increase. Without doubt one key element is that the community now owns this key village asset. It is our belief, and seems to be borne out by what is happening in Hesket Newmarket, that local ownership leads to support.

At a public meeting held in February 2010 in Crosby Ravensworth it was agreed to launch the campaign to acquire the Butcher’s Arms through a community share issue and, at that meeting,


50 residents offered to join and invest.  Because of the proposed community buy-out the pub owners agreed to reopen the Butcher’s Arms again over the summer of 2010. It opened in April and closed again in September 2010.  Trade during that six month period, even with restricted opening hours, was good, but the directors of LCP Ltd believed that it could be greatly improved on.

Whilst the Lyvennet Community Trust had initially developed the proposals it was necessary to establish a new corporate body – a form of co-operative known as an Industrial and Provident Society. The Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd was registered on 10th February 2011.

The LCP agreed a purchase price with the current owners along with a 3 month window of opportunity to raise the required funding. On 27th March 2011 the LCP Prospectus was launched at a community meeting in the Crosby Ravensworth Village Hall, the website went live and share cheques started to be banked.

Over the next two and a half months every publicity medium was targeted. Articles regularly appeared in every Cumbria local newspaper, the Team gave radio interviews to local radio stations and Radio 4. The Community Enterprise Hub also supported the Team and managed to get the Guardian newspaper to pick up the story. We appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show and even advertised on e-bay.

In addition our local MP, an early shareholder started tweeting bringing in yet another audience.

Grant funding was also chased during this period with £35,000 secured from the Parish Council, Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council, the Key Fund and Coops.

The village funding thermometer continued its upward progress and on the 4th June 2011 the LCP purchased the pub. On 6th June over 30 residents, young and old descended on the building to start the strip out and refurbishment. There were tractors outside, loaded with rubbish and scrap, residents in every room packing and moving furniture and crowbars and axes being used in the bar.

Over the next 9 weeks volunteers; community residents and shareholders, put in over 4000 hours working alongside a small group of trades to transform the downstairs of the building. The works included:

Re-plastering walls and ceiling throughout the downstairs area

Complete rewire of the building

New heating and plumbing system

Removing walls to create an open plan lounge / dining area and enlarging the kitchen area

Installing a commercial kitchen, new bar, solid fuel stoves, underground gas tank

50 residents offered to join and invest.  Because of the proposed community buy-out the pub owners agreed to reopen the Butcher’s Arms again over the summer of 2010. It opened in April and closed again in September 2010.  Trade during that six month period, even with restricted opening hours, was good, but the directors of LCP Ltd believed that it could be greatly improved on.

Whilst the Lyvennet Community Trust had initially developed the proposals it was necessary to establish a new corporate body – a form of co-operative known as an Industrial and Provident Society. The Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd was registered on 10th February 2011.

The LCP agreed a purchase price with the current owners along with a 3 month window of opportunity to raise the required funding. On 27th March 2011 the LCP Prospectus was launched at a community meeting in the Crosby Ravensworth Village Hall, the website went live and share cheques started to be banked.

Over the next two and a half months every publicity medium was targeted. Articles regularly appeared in every Cumbria local newspaper, the Team gave radio interviews to local radio stations and Radio 4. The Community Enterprise Hub also supported the Team and managed to get the Guardian newspaper to pick up the story. We appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show and even advertised on e-bay.

In addition our local MP, an early shareholder started tweeting bringing in yet another audience.

Grant funding was also chased during this period with £35,000 secured from the Parish Council, Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council, the Key Fund and Coops.


Shareholders wanted!  Progress in plain sight.

The village funding thermometer continued its upward progress and on the 4th June 2011 the LCP purchased the pub. On 6th June over 30 residents, young and old descended on the building to start the strip out and refurbishment. There were tractors outside, loaded with rubbish and scrap, residents in every room packing and moving furniture and crowbars and axes being used in the bar.

Over the next 9 weeks volunteers; community residents and shareholders, put in over 4000 hours working alongside a small group of trades to transform the downstairs of the building. The works included:

Re-plastering walls and ceiling throughout the downstairs area

Complete rewire of the building

New heating and plumbing system

Removing walls to create an open plan lounge / dining area and enlarging the kitchen area

 Installing a commercial kitchen, new bar, solid fuel stoves, underground gas tank

Painting, decorating and new floor coverings.




The LCP Team managed to secure tenants ready for the opening on 27th August and boy  was  it a day to remember.

So was the Wednesday before the opening, as the Team had to arrange for an important visit; David Cameron, the Prime Minister, dropped in for lunch to meet the Team and discuss the community works in the village.

The PM was allowed to open the bar but not the pub. An article in the local paper the following Saturday by our MP told the story.

The official opening was carried out by a shareholder, John Stubbs, who flew in specially from Australia. John grew up in the Butchers Arms, as his Mum owned the pub from 1958-78 so his involvement in opening the refurbished business was appropriate. It was quite a reunion for John and some of his family who had not been in the village for over 40 years.

A song was also written for the opening: ‘The ballad of the Butchers Arms”, although our landlord at the time, Keith did not quite agree with one of  the lines; “and we will drink to the break of dawn”.

The business is now thriving, employing two full time and 9 part time staff, and providing good food in a warm and pleasant environment. The tenants have created the right balance between attracting diners, drinkers and individuals simply coming in for company, activities and to catch up on the latest gossip. The Pub has now become a vibrant community hub.

The only way to understand the success of the cooperative is to visit the pub and talk to locals and shareholders who openly demonstrate their passion and pride in what has been achieved.


Photo: The official opening – 27th August 2012


Shareholders

The pub is owned by 297 shareholders who have invested £300,000 in the purchase of the building and its refurbishment. Individual shares range from £250 to £20,000 and irrespective of shareholding each person has a single vote.


56% of the shareholders are from the local community , with the remainder from all areas of the UK, America, Alaska, Singapore, Australia and Spain.






The Word  Spreads

Our Chair was astounded by the knowledge of the Butchers Pub at a Community Land Trust Conference in Burlington, Vermont, USA in September 2012. Our Burlington shareholder had certainly  not been slow in promoting the pub.


Our pub continues to appear in photographs around the UK: in Annual reports from the Co-ops, Community Land Trust Network and Charity Bank to the mobile exhibition by  the Co-ops.

Photo on right: Snapped by a shareholder on the promenade in Brighton in the summer 2012. The co-ops mobile exhibition was touring the UK

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