With help from the More than a Pub programme, a much-loved pub in the heart of Kingstone in Staffordshire is now under community ownership following a 6-month campaign by locals to save it.
The Shrewsbury Arms was put up for auction by the owners in September 2018. As the only pub in the village, this news hit the local community hard. A number of locals soon rallied together and set up the Kingstone Community Society with the objective of re-opening The Shrew as a community-owned pub. At the very first public meeting in October, the local community had pledged £70,000 to create a community pub. Shares were available at £1 each, but a minimum of holding of £250 was set.
After submitting several offers the group were unable to agree a price for the property with the vendors and on Wednesday 3 April, Kingstone Community Society went to auction. With a packed auction room, committee members and shareholders went to support and witness this amazing event in the history of Kingstone. As the hammer went down, the lot was announced as unsold as the reserve of £300,000 had not been made. Members of the community group approached the Auctioneer and negotiations commenced. The auction finished at 4pm and by 4.50pm Kingstone Community Society received the call they had been waiting for – they were now the owners of the Shrewsbury Arms.
The pub will be run on a commercial basis, ideally via a tenant. Rental income, together with community involvement and volunteering, will deliver community activities which could include a coffee shop, essentials shop, place for selling local farm produce, parcel drop off and possible post office counter. The overreaching aims of the Society are for broader involvement and engagement across all members and age groups, reducing isolation and encouraging more inclusivity for all. Crucially the Society will be able to provide local employment opportunities for several persons. This project will benefit the village of Kingstone and the wider community, by allowing access to services, and becoming a focal point for the community hub.
Jonny Grey, from the community group, said: “This is a brilliant day for the local community and will be a breath of fresh air for the entire village – providing new facilities and local employment. We have had fantastic support from 189 investors from the village and beyond, including some investors from Belgium, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, USA and even Rwanda.”
The group has also received a £50,000 loan and £50,000 grant as well as business support from the More Than a Pub programme, delivered by Plunkett Foundation and funded by Power to Change and Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
James Alcock, Executive Director at Plunkett Foundation, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to support the Kingstone Community Society who are working hard to make sure their community can benefit from everything that having a thriving local pub brings. According to CAMRA, 14 pubs are closing a week. In comparison, community pubs have a 100% survival rate showing that they are so much more than a place to buy a drink; they provide important social spaces and services for local people, and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity.”
Jenny Sansom, from Power to Change, said: “There is amazing community spirit on display here. It is great to see The Shrewsbury Arms stay in the community, in the hands of the people who value it most. Crucially, the pub will now offer more than just pints providing a range of services to help local people.”
Community Pubs Minister Jake Berry said: “Our Great British Pubs are the heart of many communities, providing thousands of jobs and boosting our economy by £21billion per year. I hope the residents of Kingstone will celebrate their success with a pint at The Shrewsbury Arms after securing its future through the More than a Pub programme.”
The society are planning a refurbishment and giving the pub a ‘facelift’ with plans in place to repair, replace and update the current structure. Many shareholders have put their names forward to help and would love to hear from any trades person or retailers who would like to help in anyway with the refurbishment of The Shrewsbury Arms.