After decades of private ownership, residents of the Knoydart peninsula have bought their local pub The Old Forge in a landmark community-buyout bid. The move follows a mammoth 14-month fundraising effort that raised over £320,000. As a result, the pub is now owned by The Old Forge Community Benefit Society (CBS).
The pub is known to many as the Guinness World Records ‘Remotest Pub in Mainland Britain’, due to the fact it is ill Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula.
Stephanie Harris, Secretary of the CBS says, “We are ecstatic that after so many months of hard work we have been successful in securing the pub for the community. The Old Forge plays such an important role in Knoydart’s social culture and economic sustainability, and with the business now in the community’s hands we can steer it forward in a way that will work for the needs of the locals and the thousands of visitors who come every year.”
The Old Forge, the only local pub in the area, now joins the growing list of community-owned and managed pubs in Scotland. Not only did the locals raise over £320,000 through a community share offer and Crowdfunder, but they also received funding support from Scottish Land Fund and Community Ownership Fund to secure enough capital to purchase the building and undertake essential renovations.
The Old Forge Community Benefit Society (CBS), will now act on behalf of the local residents and the shareholders who invested in the project and will be responsible for reinvesting the profits back into the business, not shareholders, and into projects that deliver wider community benefit.
The Knoydart community has a track record of successful community ownership, having secured 17,500 acres of the Knoydart Estate in 1999 as one of the first community buyouts in Scotland.
Now the next phase of the project begins as the committee prepares for relaunching the pub in a few weeks’ time. Stephanie continues “We haven’t been able to access the building up to this point except for when our building inspectors were permitted entry for valuation purposes. The inspection identified a number of essential works to make the building safe and fit for purpose, so we plan to open on a drinks-only basis for the first few months until we can renovate the kitchen.
“All going well we hope to reopen at Easter weekend, but we’ll confirm this nearer the time. We’re in the process of hiring staff and already have a number of local residents lined up which is great, and means we are achieving one of our goals to provide new local employment.”