6th July 2021
A group of villagers have defied all odds and come together to rescue their local pub.
Based in Mawbray village on the Solway coast, The Lowther Arms was the heart of its local community until it closed down in December 2018. The village had already lost its local shop, garage and post office. In May that year, Holme St Cuthbert’s Parish Council applied for the pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, which allowed the newly formed group, Lowther Arms Community Project (LACP), to bid and gave six months breathing space to consider all the options including a community buy-out.
A grant from Hellrigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund covered initial volunteer expenses, such as travel costs, meeting room and stationery, so that members of the group could progress with the process.
Chris Atkinson, Chairman, said “We lost just about everything else in the parish.
“When we realised there was overwhelming support to buy the pub, we immediately began to organise ourselves. A local survey showed that most people wanted to save the heart of the village – a traditional pub serving traditional food, but with extra facilities like a small shop, meeting place, library, café and courier collection point.”
The group is supported by the Plunket Foundation’s More than a Pub initiative, funded by Power to Change with access to specialist business support.
The groups determination meant it finally opened its door in June 2021. The residents are over the moon to have their pub back. The project has over 300 shareholders from the local community, and beyond, who came together to raise the money to buy the pub through the sale of community shares. LACP are now the landlords of the pub and lease to tenants Warren and Maddie. LACP has set the overall direction of the business as a traditional country pub and Warren and Maddie are free to run the pub within this broad framework.
One resident said: “It takes away the identity of a village if it loses the pub. The more services we lose, the harder life gets.” Another said: “The pub is a lifeline for the older people in the community.”
The Lowther Arms is not only a place where you can chat, commiserate and celebrate, it’s a place to meet your neighbours and new friends. The village is alive again. It hasn’t been easy for the group as there isn’t enough residents in the village to keep the pub going so the group tailored the business to suit local needs such as incorporating a local shop, collection point and attracting passing cyclists.
LACP retains control of the small caravan and camp site associated with the pub and income generated from this site, plus the tenant’s rent, will contribute to future investment to maintain the fabric of the building and improve the facilities.
‘Lowther Arms Community Project’ featured on BBC Morning Live, on the 2nd July 2021, click here to view.