The Gardeners Rest is nestled in the fastchanging district of Neepsend and is the only
operating pub in a district that is famous for its connections with the gas, steel and rail
industries in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

About The Gardeners Rest

The recent regeneration of the Kelham Island district, the approved demolition order on the old Neepsend Cannon Brewery, and the emergence of a local bakery are early indicators that the former industrial area of Neepsend is back on the map. The Gardeners Rest, which opened in 1898, remains a much-loved base for a diverse community of individuals and community groups, many of whom come together to socialise and make the pub their home from home.

Journey

The Gardeners Rest Community Society group that came together to save the pub, using a Community Benefit Society, had a vision to preserve the unique character of this historic pub, and for it to act as a hub for the many communities of interest that choose to use it.

They wanted the pub to remain a venue of choice for the delivery of many valued community services as well as trading successfully as a traditional local pub.

Vision

The Society had a vision to preserve the unique character of this historic Neepsend pub, and for it to act as a hub for the many communities of interest that choose to use it. They wanted the pub to remain a venue of choice for the delivery of many valued community services, namely:
• A traditional local pub serving real ale and a wide variety of alcoholic / nonalcoholic drinks
• A music venue with live music three nights a week, including guest performers and jam sessions to suit a wide range of tastes
• An activity centre with a bar billiards table, a quiz night every week, occasional celebration nights with special attractions and the opportunity for local groups to book the pub’s conservatory to pursue interests ranging from photography and chess to local history
• To offer peace and calm and to be free from jukebox, fruit machine or canned music intrusion. For it to be a place to talk, to read newspapers (always available) and books, to play board games or somewhere just to sit and sip

Social impact

The Gardeners Rest is a place where individuals can come on their own and find safe company – business is steady but the pub rarely attracts crowds. Everyone is welcome and it would be hard for many to find such an inclusive place elsewhere. People with learning disabilities and mental health issues use the pub regularly. Some members of the Society have spent their working lives creating employment opportunities for people who are disadvantaged for health and social reasons, and they intend to extend the opportunities provided by the pub to give people employment in food preparation, cleaning and in bar work.

Plunkett’s role

The Gardeners Rest has been involved in a number of Plunkett Foundation’s activities since opening as a community pub. Mark Powell attended the 2018 More Than a Pub Conference, providing a keynote speech on the role of the farm in the community. The Gardeners Rest has acted as an integral case study for Plunkett’s role in ensuring the community pub sector is promoted across the UK. The group also received a grant of £50,000 and a loan of £50,000 under the More Than A Pub programme which they are paying back over a seven-year period.

Watch

Find out how The Gardeners Rest is supporting the local community in this informative case-study film highlighting their social impact: