The Craufurd Arms was put on the market in October 2016, prompting the swift formation of a community action group among the regulars who were determined to save their local pub.
Four years beforehand, in 2012 the Golden Harp in nearby Furze Platt (just a mile from the Craufurd Arms) had been closed and re-developed into a Tesco store. The Furze Platt Action Group (FPAG) had been formed at the time to lessen the impact of the development on the Conservation area in which it was situated.
The FPAG registered the Craufurd Arms as an ACV with the Council and in August 2016 the Wellington Pub Company Plc announced that it wished to sell the Craufurd Arms. Within a week the Craufurd Arms Community Group was formed with the aim of bringing the pub into community ownership.
The group applied for support from the More than a Pub (MTAP) programme and guidance from a specialist adviser. They also received a £2,500 bursary to consult with the community in the early stages and to incorporate as a Community Benefit Society (The Craufurd Arms Society Ltd).
To group then went on a study visit funded by MTAP to the community owned Antwerp Arms in Tottenham. The Craufurd Arms Society achieved the Community Shares Standard Mark Accreditation in February 2017 with support from Plunkett.
Support was also received from CAMRA and Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council who provided advice and support, St Piran’s School, who hosted a Public Meeting, ‘Our Community Enterprise Ltd’, who registered the group’s ‘Right to Bid’ with the council, plus support from a range of local groups and charities who helped the Craufurd Arms to plan how best to run a range of services to help local people.
The group purchased their building in June 2017 having worked tremendously hard to raise money from the following sources:
- A grant and loan package of £120,000 from More than a Pub programme.
- £313,750 in community shares from 229 people who invested sums of between £250 and £20,000.
- £100,000 investment from the Community Shares Company (Big Society Capital)
- an additional £93K secured loan from Co-operative & Community Finance
- the Borough Council also approved a loan of £65,000 but this was not taken as the group preferred to have only one secured loan on the property.
Following a fast efficient refurbishment, the Craufurd Arms re-opened under community ownership in July 2017 as the UK’s 50th Community owned pub. Within the same year was nominated for two awards – ‘runner up’ for both CAMRA’s prestigious national ‘Pub Saving Award 2017’ as well as the Maidenhead Advertiser’s ‘Pub of the Year Award 2017’ losing out by only 9 votes out of 5000.
The Society believes the business is making a big impact in terms of improving people’s health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation, providing better access to services and creating pride in the local community.
A local Autism group holds regular coffee mornings and social evenings at the pub for parents and carers of autistic children and young adults. The ‘Maidenhead Memories’ group also meet monthly to bring together any isolated elderly members of the community.
The café and drop-in sessions have extended the service provided by the pub outside of traditional trading hours, offering a wider range of drinks and snacks, plus the opportunity for increased social interaction. Improvements to the garden have made the pub more attractive family friendly enhancing the beer garden as a space for the whole community to enjoy.
The Craufurd Arms Tech Club holds monthly meetings for anyone working/interested in technology in the Maidenhead area who wants to share ideas, learn and get better at what they do. The pub also aspires for other groups to arrange similar meet-ups including computer support sessions for the inexperienced in 2018. The pub has been refurbished for maximum energy efficiency to reduce their carbon footprint.
Additional work and volunteering opportunities at the Craufurd have also helped bring people together and boost the economy.
Although the pub is in 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.
“Under community ownership we are investing any surplus into improving the pub, and with the support of over 200 members, the pub is now more popular than ever.
“We are very excited and proud to be the 50th co-operatively owned pub in the UK and we are grateful for the support we have received from Plunkett Foundation. Without them we would not have been able to achieve our dream of bringing our pint-sized pub into community ownership. Buying the pub has helped to not only sustain the community, but it has also preserved a local asset and a piece of local heritage.”