'Oldest community-owned' pub celebrates 20th anniversary

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Party time: the Beauchamp Arms is planning a big event to celebrate its 20th anniversary
Party time: the Beauchamp Arms is planning a big event to celebrate its 20th anniversary

Related tags: Pub, Village

What is believed to be the longest running community-owned pub in the UK celebrates its 20th anniversary on Saturday (1 July).

A big village party is planned at the Beauchamp Arms in Dymock, Gloucestershire, which was taken over by its local community in 1997 when the last remaining pub in the village was put up for sale and threatened with closure.

It was only in May this year that Dymock Parish Council made the final repayment on a 20-year loan of £160,000 from the Public Works Loan Board.

Local community spirit

The parish council took over ownership of the Beauchamp Arms in May 1997 working with a management company running the pub. Much of the refurbishment work was done by members of the local community who donated their time, skills and resources.

Council chairman Terry Bell said future rental income from the pub will go towards general upkeep for the building and towards other community projects in Dymock.

The current tenants of the pub, John and Linda Griffiths, have been running the Beauchamp Arms for 15 years with great success due, they say, to the parish council operating at arm’s length and letting the couple run the pub as they see fit.

Pub is The Hub support

Pub is The Hub, founded in 2001, provides advice and support to communities who are thinking of taking on their local pub. Spokesperson Lisa Harlow said she wasn't aware of any other pub in the UK that had operated longer than 20 years under community ownership.

Only 60 to 70 pubs are community owned. Harlow said less than 20% of communities that try to take over their local pub succeed for several reasons. “It can be difficult to galvanise the whole community, sometimes they cannot raise the cash, landlords do not always want to sell to the community and it can be quite a tedious process.”

However, she added that it was heartening to see when communities succeeded.

To succeed, communities are encouraged to diversify a pub’s business model to cater for a range of local needs. This might include establishing, for example, a community café in the pub or a shop that makes it a hub of the area. 

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