OUR STORY 2018-04-03T13:37:31+00:00

OUR STORY

OUR STORY

THE FIRST STEPS…

The Duke of Marlborough is cooperatively-owned, professionally-run and, since summer 2017, buzzing. That’s after having been closed for over two years. Without a determined campaign, it could have been lost forever.

In December 2014, the previous owners retired, and the doors of the Duke of Marlborough shut. In the absence of buyers interested in running a pub, there was a high risk of the building being delicensed and sold as a private residence.

Having long outlived the King’s Head and the Griffin, it was the last pub in the village. With the loss of the Duke, centuries of traditional pub hospitality in Somersham would have come to an end.

Fortunately for the community, a member of the village’s farming family, local doctor Sarah Caston, came to the rescue. Refusing to accept the closure as permanent, she called a public meeting, gave the rallying cry, and started the Save The Duke campaign. A committee was formed, and the years of hard work began.

THE FIRST STEPS…

The Duke of Marlborough is cooperatively-owned, professionally-run and, since summer 2017, buzzing. That’s after having been closed for over two years. Without a determined campaign, it could have been lost forever.

In December 2014, the previous owners retired, and the doors of the Duke of Marlborough shut. In the absence of buyers interested in running a pub, there was a high risk of the building being delicensed and sold as a private residence.

Having long outlived the King’s Head and the Griffin, it was the last pub in the village. With the loss of the Duke, centuries of traditional pub hospitality in Somersham would have come to an end.

Fortunately for the community, a member of the village’s farming family, local doctor Sarah Caston, came to the rescue. Refusing to accept the closure as permanent, she called a public meeting, gave the rallying cry, and started the Save The Duke campaign. A committee was formed, and the years of hard work began.

“It’s true that, at first, we probably underestimated the scale of the challenge; the level of commitment; and the amount of time it would take to raise the funds,” says Sarah. “Good job we did, or we may never have embarked on the venture!”

Sarah led the committee for a year, before handing the chair on to James Batchelor-Wylam, also from the farming community. She has continued to play a crucial role in the campaign, undertaking  a lot of documentation, as well as inspiring the community, shareholders and fund-providers.

James has skilfully taken the project through its paces, which has included buying the business; appointing the manager and chef; and overseeing its direction…

“It’s true that, at first, we probably underestimated the scale of the challenge; the level of commitment; and the amount of time it would take to raise the funds,” says Sarah. “Good job we did, or we may never have embarked on the venture!”

Sarah led the committee for a year, before handing the chair on to James Batchelor-Wylam, also from the farming community. She has continued to play a crucial role in the campaign, undertaking  a lot of documentation, as well as inspiring the community, shareholders and fund-providers.

James has skilfully taken the project through its paces, which has included buying the business; appointing the manager and chef; and overseeing its direction.

GAINING SUPPORT

We approached the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation which helps rural communities, for advice. The organisation, its staff and consultants have been amazing right from the beginning – and continue to offer encouragement and the benefit of their wisdom. Alan Collard deserves a special mention: his support has been invaluable.

Help was also sought from other pubs, many community-owned – and they all responded generously, sharing their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Folk at Suffolk’s first cooperative pub, The Case is Altered in Great Bentley, have been particularly supportive. Cheers to them!

GAINING SUPPORT

We approached the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation which helps rural communities, for advice. The organisation, its staff and consultants have been amazing right from the beginning – and continue to offer encouragement and the benefit of their wisdom. Alan Collard deserves a special mention: his support has been invaluable.

Help was also sought from other pubs, many community-owned – and they all responded generously, sharing their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Folk at Suffolk’s first cooperative pub, The Case is Altered in Great Bentley, have been particularly supportive. Cheers to them!

FORMAL STRUCTURE

Having looked at a number of options, in early 2015, we set up Somersham Community Pub Ltd as a ‘Community Benefit Society’. It would be run for the benefit of the community and would attract and welcome people from far and wide to make it viable and sustainable.

FORMAL STRUCTURE

Having looked at a number of options, in early 2015, we set up Somersham Community Pub Ltd as a ‘Community Benefit Society’. It would be run for the benefit of the community and would attract and welcome people from far and wide to make it viable and sustainable.

RAISING FUNDS

The idea was to raise the money to buy the pub through selling shares. We applied to HMRC for, and were granted, Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) This allows investors a 30% tax break. The scheme is still open. Why not join our growing band of shareholders – and take advantage of the tax benefit? To find out more, click here.

There are several crowdfunding platforms. We chose Crowdfunder UK, who were brilliant. They helped us spread the word and sell well over [£100,000??] worth of shares.

RAISING FUNDS

The idea was to raise the money to buy the pub through selling shares. We applied to HMRC for, and were granted, Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) This allows investors a 30% tax break. The scheme is still open. Why not join our growing band of shareholders – and take advantage of the tax benefit? To find out more, click here.

There are several crowdfunding platforms. We chose Crowdfunder UK, who were brilliant. They helped us spread the word and sell well over [£100,000??] worth of shares.

It was great: people were putting their hands in their pockets to buy shares and support fundraising events. But after months and months, we were still a long way from our target.

We applied to HMRC for, and in [2016?] were granted, Social Investment Tax Relief scheme, (SITR) status – which gives tax rebates on loans. We were one of the first pubs in the country to qualify for this. It led to a much-needed boost to the coffers from a few doughty investors.

It was great: people were putting their hands in their pockets to buy shares and support fundraising events. But after months and months, we were still a long way from our target.

We applied to HMRC for, and in [2016?] were granted, Social Investment Tax Relief scheme, (SITR) status – which gives tax rebates on loans. We were one of the first pubs in the country to qualify for this. It led to a much-needed boost to the coffers from a few doughty investors.

A lot of time and energy were put into applying for grants. Not all applications were successful, but the ones that were have made a massive difference! Sincere gratitude to:

  • Somersham Parish Council
  • Mid Suffolk District Council
  • Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF)

The Duke of Marlborough was the first pub in Britain to receive a combined grant and loan from the More Than A Pub project. Absolutely enormous thanks to the organisations responsible for providing game-changing amounts of money through this scheme, namely

  • Plunkett Foundation
  • Cooperative & Community Finance

A lot of time and energy were put into applying for grants. Not all applications were successful, but the ones that were have made a massive difference! Sincere gratitude to:

  • Somersham Parish Council
  • Mid Suffolk District Council
  • Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF)

The Duke of Marlborough was the first pub in Britain to receive a combined grant and loan from the More Than A Pub project. Absolutely enormous thanks to the organisations responsible for providing game-changing amounts of money through this scheme, namely

  • Plunkett Foundation
  • Cooperative & Community Finance

THE TEAM

A number of committee members were there at the beginning and are still in position.

The following good people have given up their time to be committee members at some point: James Batchelor-Wylam, Lucy Batchelor-Wylam, Frances Brace, Sarah Caston, Richard Toone, Debbie Dodd, Laura Hammond, Maggie James, Keith McKeown, Mike Shelmerdine, Ian Smart, Rob Spackman, Linda Storey, David Thorne and Stephen Wright.

THE TEAM

A number of committee members were there at the beginning and are still in position.

The following good people have given up their time to be committee members at some point: James Batchelor-Wylam, Lucy Batchelor-Wylam, Frances Brace, Sarah Caston, Richard Toone, Debbie Dodd, Laura Hammond, Maggie James, Keith McKeown, Mike Shelmerdine, Ian Smart, Rob Spackman, Linda Storey, David Thorne and Stephen Wright.

The breadth of skills among, and dedication from, committee members have contributed massively to the success of the campaign.

There have been some enjoyable fundraising events – ‘bashes in the barn’, a ceilidh and a quiz.

We’ve appeared on BBC Look East and ITV Anglia – and have featured regularly on BBC Radio Suffolk, in the East Anglian Daily Times EADT, In Touch and The Link.

Our campaign has also been covered by pub and beer trade press, What’s Brewing and a number of CAMRA magazines (not just in our own region!)

The breadth of skills among, and dedication from, committee members have contributed massively to the success of the campaign.

There have been some enjoyable fundraising events – ‘bashes in the barn’, a ceilidh and a quiz.

We’ve appeared on BBC Look East and ITV Anglia – and have featured regularly on BBC Radio Suffolk, in the East Anglian Daily Times EADT, In Touch and The Link.

Our campaign has also been covered by pub and beer trade press, What’s Brewing and a number of CAMRA magazines (not just in our own region!)