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How local residents saved this Maidenhead pub

PUBLISHED: 11:39 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 29 August 2017

You can expect a warm welcome at this child and dog-friendly pub

You can expect a warm welcome at this child and dog-friendly pub

Archant

It can be done – local residents now own their local pub one year on from fearing it would be the latest to close

Regular readers will know that as we go about our travels one of the saddest sights for the team here is passing what was a local pub, now clearly closed down and behind fencing. We might have been hoping to pop in, but what’s more important is that a community has lost yet another of its vital gathering spots.

So we’re delighted to learn – and will definitely be calling in there – that the Craufurd Arms in Maidenhead has been saved after residents launched a campaign. It’s all the more special because The Craufurd Arms in Gringer Hill will become the 50th co-operative pub in the UK following funding and support from the More Than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme. This was launched last year by national charity Plunkett Foundation and funded by Department for Communities and Local Government and independent trust Power to Change.

Almost exactly a year ago former owner Wellington Pub Company announced that they would be selling the Craufurd Arms. Residents had already seen The Golden Harp become a Tesco convenience store. Indeed, Mark Newcombe, who would become chairman of the Craufurd Arms Society Ltd, had been chairman of the Furze Platt Action Group when that happened and became involved with the local CAMRA branch.

After learning of the heart-breaking news, the residents set up their Community Benefit Society, which in turn raised £310,000 from their community share offer in March 2017. Shareholders were invited to invest between £250 and £25,000 to become members – and democratic owners – of the pub.

Now there are a number of ambitious plans to develop The Craufurd Arms into a community hub with services and facilities beyond the traditional role of a local pub. The team want to retain the Craufurd Arms as a place for the local community to socialise, host fundraising events for local charities and act as a meeting place for lsports teams to come to after weekend matches.

They are also planning to work with local charities and groups, an example of this is their aim to work with the Autism Group to provide an after school club for young adults on the autistic spectrum. This was not just about buying a pub; it was about helping to sustain a community and preserving local heritage.

Mark Newcombe says: “Although this is an urban setting, the Craufurd feels like a village local. There used to be six pubs in this part of Maidenhead and now this is the only one. We’ve done this to safeguard the future of the community. Under community ownership we will be investing the surplus in improving the pub. And with the support of well over 200 members I’m sure it is going to be more popular than ever.”

He adds: “We are very excited and proud to be the 50th co-operative pub in the UK and are grateful for the support and advice we received from the Plunkett Foundation, I am sure without them we would not have been able to achieve our dream of bringing our pint-sized pub into community ownership.”

The official ‘Grand Opening Weekend’ was set to celebrate the new community ownership from Friday, 21 – Sunday, 23 July during the Maidenhead Festival.

James Alcock, General Manager at Plunkett Foundation, says: “Through the support offered via the ‘More Than A Pub’ programme the Craufurd Arms Society Ltd have developed a sustainable business case while shaping plans for innovative additional services which will deliver a wide impact to their local community. They are a proud addition to this rapidly expanding sector and I wish them every success for the future.”

Jenny Sansom, who leads the More Than a Pub Programme at Power To Change, is also delighted: “This is a wonderful milestone, reached through the hard work of communities all over England. It is about keeping pubs alive, along with all the great services that the pubs will now host.”

To find out more about the programme call 01993 810730 or see www.plunkett.co.uk.

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