The UK's 50th co-operative pub, in the PM's backyard

The Craufurd Arms in Maidenhead is set to become the 50th co-operative pub in the UK.

This follows funding and support from the More Than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support programme, launched in 2016 by national charity Plunkett Foundation and funded by Department for Communities and Local Government and independent trust Power to Change.

The residents of Maidenhead, part of the Prime Minister’s constituency, started to become alarmed in recent years following the closure and redevelopment of local pubs. In August 2016, when former owner Wellington Pub Company announced that they would be selling the Craufurd Arms, locals sprang into action.

After learning of the heart-breaking news, a determined group of locals set up a Community Benefit Society, the Craufurd Arms Society Ltd., 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.

The group received specialist advice and finance from the More Than A Pub programme, which was set up in 2016 to support community ownership of pubs in England. This two-year programme is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change, and is delivered by the Plunkett Foundation.

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 community 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 local sports 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, Chairman of the Craufurd Arms Society Ltd., said: “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. The pub has always been popular but it suffered from under investment. 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 added, “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.”

There will be an official ‘Grand Opening Weekend’ to celebrate the new community ownership from Friday 21 – Sunday 23 July during the Maidenhead Festival.

James Alcock, General Manager at Plunkett Foundation, said: “We are delighted that The Craufurd Arms is set to become the 50th Co-operative Pub trading in the UK. 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, said: “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 please call the programme advice line on 01993 810730 or click here.