After the pub went on the market in January 2021, local residents clubbed together in resounding agreement that the Old Forge should be community owned, preventing it from being sold and turned into holiday homes, thus keeping local trade flowing, creating jobs for residents at the pub and continuing to keep tourists visiting the area.
Society treasurer, Jo Firminger said: “We were blown away by the huge response we had to our share offer.”
“During planning we had felt that the targets we set ourselves were very stretching but we reached the minimum target for a community share offer in what we believe to be a record time and are very pleased that over 80% of the shareholders are local residents showing the immense support from the community to make this project happen.”
Of the £508,000 grant, £380,000 is assigned to support acquisition costs of the pub while the remaining £128,000 is for land and building tax, legal and conveyancing costs, insurance, essential repairs and employment of a project officer.
Britain's most remote pub
As Knoydart is not connected to the UK road network, pubgoers have to undertake a two-day, 18mile hike across the Munros Mountains, with some wild camping involved, or take the passenger ferry, a seven mile sea crossing, from Mallaig to enjoy a pint or some locally sourced seafood at the historic site, which also featured as one of the top 10 places for beer and the best bar to drink in in the World's Pubs Hierarchy ranking 2014.
Small communities do not have the option of a huge choice of different facilities to choose from so the pub becomes a central hub and is key to keep people connected, particularly through the long winter months. Because of this, projects like these are becoming increasingly popular with 230 societies raising over £50m since 2009.
Community is incredibly important within Knoydart and The Old Forge is seen as an important landmark for the areas heritage and the society hopes to promote community values by creating a friendly, inclusive social hub that welcomes all residents and visitors while also supporting local trade and having a positive influence on the towns sustainable, environmentally conscious ethos.
Firminger said: “Nobody knows what a community needs more than the people who live and work there every day. Community ownership of the Old Forge will secure its future as a key local asset.”
“The pub can become a key employer offering training and employment for young people and reinvestment of profits into the community can help improve services for locals and visitors year on year.”
According to Firminger, The Plunkett Foundation has been instrumental in supporting and guiding the society in achieving their goal and would advise any community looking to do something similar to start their journey by contacting the foundation for information.