A long journey to community-ownership
It is ten years since the George was almost destroyed by fire and eight years since a group of volunteers got together to try and save this historic Grade II listed building. During that time, we have seen Brexit, Covid, five Prime Ministers and the Ukraine war. There could never have been a tougher, more inflationary time to take on a challenge like this.
Support for the restoration of The George has been overwhelming and as many more homes are currently being built in Wickham Market there is an ever-growing demand for a village pub. The George is the last remaining pub in Wickham Market which makes its survival even more important in helping revive the High Street by bringing more employment and footfall to the village.
Restoration will start within weeks and the first evidence of work will be the immediate reduction of the highly visible scaffolding which has long been a blot on the local landscape.
The road to success was not easy.
In November 2021 The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded the George a £988,200 Heritage Enterprise grant which alongside shareholder funds and other grants was thought to be enough to complete the renovation. However, when tenders were received for the building work, inflation had taken its toll and costs were shown to be far higher than original projections.
A combined effort was needed to save the project.
To bridge the funding gap cost savings were made wherever possible with the enormous support and help of Seamans Building. Shareholders were asked once again to dig deep, and they did so generously. And finally, alongside support from The Community Ownership Fund and additional grants The National Lottery Heritage Fund were asked to consider an increase to their original grant award. These all combined to fill the funding gap and with building costs now fixed, the grant increase approved, and more shareholders on board, the project will go ahead.