Locals hope to raise £30k to take over village's last standing pub

Dorset locals launch bid to raise £30,000 to take over village’s last standing pub as a ‘community enterprise’ – after the other four inns in the 700-strong parish all closed

  • Locals have launched determined bid to save the last remaining pub in a village 
  • Villagers hope to raise £30,000 for The White Lion pub in Broadwindsor, Dorset
  • The 17th century pub is now under threat after the last landlord left last year
  • Cross Keys, The Oak, The Butchers Arms and The George Inn closed over years
  • Do YOU have a ‘community-run’ pub? Tell us your pub-saving stories at [email protected] 

Do YOU have a ‘community-run’ pub? 

Tell us your pub-saving stories at [email protected] 

Residents have launched a £30,000 fundraiser in a desperate bid to save the last remaining pub in a Dorset village – after the four other venues closed.

Villagers in Broadwindsor, Dorset have already saved the local shop from closing after taking that over as a community project that now turns over £250,000 a year. 

Now they intend to rescue the  17th century White Lion pub, situated in the centre of the ancient parish, which is under threat after the last landlord left in May last year. 

Over the years residents have seen the other four venues in the village  – The Cross Keys, The Oak, The Butchers Arms and The George Inn – all close and put to residential use. 

The White Lion pub owners, Palmers Brewery, approached the Parish Council to see if there was interest in running the pub as a community enterprise.  

After a majority of villagers said they wanted to save the local, a band of regulars are trying to raise £30,000 needed to get the White Lion back open again.

Residents have launched a £30,000 fundraiser in a desperate bid to save the last remaining pub – the White Lion pub – in a Dorset village – after the last four venues closed

The owners, Palmers Brewery, approached the Parish Council to see if there was interest in running the pub as a community enterprise. Now, a band of regulars are trying to raise £30,000 needed to get the White Lion back open again

An archive image of The Cross Keys in Broadwindsor. The pub has since been turned into a private residence

David Leader, chairman of the Save the White Lion Steering Group, told MailOnline: ‘It’s the only meeting place in the village where everyone can come together – it’s a hub that really gives a sense of community. 

‘Isolation and loneliness is a big problem. People need a welcoming place they can go to and we want the White Lion to be exactly that.

‘It’s a beautiful Georgian building and sits in the centre of the village square. It’s a historic, prominent building thats been there for hundreds of years. The last thing we want is for it to become a private house. Once we lose it we’ll never get it back.’   

The Broadwindsor Community Pub Ltd intends to take over the tenancy of the pub and refurbish it.

The volunteers have just four weeks to raise the money needed and have set up a Crowdfunder page.

The people of Broadwindsor, which has a population of 700, have already saved the village shop from closing after taking that over as a community project that now turns over £250,000 a year.

Mr Leader added: ‘We used to have five pubs in the village, but the others have all been closed and turned into residential properties over the years.

‘The last one closed about 20 years ago. The White Lion is the last remaining pub.

‘Palmers Brewery approached the parish council to see if there was interest in running the pub as a community enterprise. A survey was conducted and 95 per cent of respondents said they wanted a pub in the village.

David Leader, chairman of the Save The White Lion Steering Group, told MailOnline: ‘It’s a beautiful Georgian building and sits in the centre of the village square. It’s a historic, prominent building thats been there for hundreds of years.’ Pictured: the White Lion pub

It is believed this image was taken at the beginning of WWI when horses from local farms were requisitioned for the war in France

‘We are determined to save it. The White Lion is in the heart of the village, a great meeting place and to lose it would be an awful tragedy for our community.

‘It’s a beautiful building but it does need some essential refurbishment and the kitchen is devoid of most equipment it will need – providing food is going to be an important part of the business plan.

‘Raising £30,000 is a tall order. We are confident we should be able to do it, but we need all the support we can get.

‘Broadwindsor isn’t a wealthy village full of million pound houses but there is a good mix of people from different walks of life – and it has a great sense of community.

‘The village shop closed a few years ago and residents got behind that to open as a community shop. That works really well and turns over £250,000.

‘We think it will work as a community pub. We don’t have to make a profit. We would employ a manager and chef but all the other support would be volunteers.’

The people of Broadwindsor, which has a population of 700, have already saved the village shop from closing after taking that over as a community project that now turns over £250,000 a year

Broadwindsor is in the heart of Thomas Hardy country and has a claim to fame that King Charles II stayed there when he was fleeing Parliamentarian soldiers in 1651 before he escaped to France.

The Cross Keys, The Oak and The Butchers Arms are all residential homes now and The George Inn, which is rumoured to be where Charles II stayed when it was called Castle Inn, is a B&B.

If they can raise the needed funds, the plan would be to start the necessary renovation work to get it reopen before the end of February.

The money raised will be used to renovate the bar area, to purchase essential kitchen equipment and provide working capital.

The community group will have to pay the brewery a monthly rent based on a per centage of their turnover once the business has reopened. 

You can donate to the White Lion  Crowdfunder here. 

Do YOU have a ‘community-run’ pub? Tell us your pub-saving stories [email protected] 

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