We want to buy, renovate and run the incredible Drewe Arms as a thriving community pub and social hub, welcoming locals and visitors alike.
by [email protected] in Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom
Thank you to each and everyone who has supported us through the last few weeks. We are delighted that including the donations page and some direct investments we have achieved a magnificent £552,875 in funding - Thank you to everyone.
Our donations page (see below) remains open on our web site www.drewearms.org.
We all now look forward to getting on with the job of opening The Drewe Arms Community Pub.
*** DONATIONS PAGE (with no minimum payment) IS STILL OPEN***
The Drewe Arms donations page is open and you can make a donation there with no minimum...or maximum. The donations page can be found at: Drewe Arms Donations
Welcome to our community share offer. We're offering the opportunity to invest in our proposal to bring the Drewe Arms into Community Ownership, transforming it into a brilliant pub and vibrant hub for the community. To do that we need to raise £600,000.
The Drewe Arms: ‘A legend in the annals of historic rural pubs’ (CAMRA)
When you visit The Drewe Arms, you will always remember it. It is a pub like no other and you will immediately succumb to its charm. We cannot let it be lost.
Its joy is in its simplicity. Arriving at the Drewe on a fine day, you may see people sitting outside in the square, enjoying a drink in the sunshine. Going through the front door is like walking into the home of an old friend. There is no conventional bar which is, at first, a little mystifying. There is a small room on the left with a fireplace, built-in benches and antique tables. It is a cosy yet public space. You will soon be in conversation with others in the room. You order your drinks through a little hatch through to the tap room and ale is poured from the cask.
But… not just now – the pub is closed and has been for twelve months. It is sorely missed. Help to bring it back to life.
We want to restore The Drewe Arms as the vibrant, warm and friendly place it has been in the past. Since it closed its doors a year ago, the pub stands empty, locked and neglected. The effect has been traumatic. If you visited Drewsteignton in the last year, you would have found no welcoming hospitality.
So, a group of us came together. We held a community meeting and a survey of local people’s opinions and ideas. The result was overwhelming support to buy the pub as a community venture with a plethora of suggestions for making it a true social hub. We formed a Community Benefit Society to take the plans forward. Meet the team.
We want to buy the freehold of the pub, bringing it into community ownership and preserving an important community asset for future generations. This ambition is already bringing people of all ages together with the wealth of ideas being tailored by the steering group into realistic plans.
The Drewe has a large ancillary building, the ‘Long Room’, traditionally the social centre of the village, and we’ve developed plans to renew this as the venue for music, dances, harvest suppers, weddings, teenage discos, children’s parties and much more. The Drewe has hosted a very successful summer arts school, Dartmoor Arts, with visiting teachers and we intend to revive this.
Our plans include a Community Kitchen and café. This will not only serve great, simple food but also cater for need within our community. We will use local, sustainable suppliers and provide employment and training opportunities. The café will have good internet access and a warm inviting atmosphere.
We’ve done the maths! As with many pubs with high rent and tied to onerous supply contracts, recent tenants of The Drewe struggled to make a profit. Although everyone could see the beauty and potential of this stunning building, any improvements made by the Pubco owners resulted in rent increases so The Drewe was neglected and tenant landlords disheartened.
In community ownership, we will free the Drewe Arms. There will be no rent, no business rates and freedom to choose sustainable, local suppliers. It will no longer be just a pub but provide great, simple food, a café, community kitchen, and social hub. It will once more take its place as the beating heart of our village.
We have talked to other community pubs who have shared their experience with us. With their help, and a lot of hard work, we have developed a solid business plan which has been thoroughly checked by an accountant and hospitality consultants.
With your help, we can raise the money to buy the freehold and finally and forever untie the Drewe’s Arms.
The Drewe Arms ‘is of exceptional national historic importance’ (CAMRA)
One of the best known and well-loved pubs in Devon, it is located in a breathtakingly beautiful corner of Dartmoor National Park. A building on the site is mentioned in The Doomsday Book and elements of the building certainly pre-date the earliest record of it being licensed in 1756. The interior listing focuses on its almost perfect preservation from the 19th century.
Owned by City Brewery and then Whitbread, Ernest and Mabel Mudge took it on in 1919 and landed the Drewe Arms in the record books. It was then known as The Druid Arms. The name was changed at the instigation of Julius Drewe who commissioned the magnificent Castle Drogo nearby.
Mabel Mudge (or Auntie as she was affectionately known) still holds the record for being the UK’s longest-serving landlady. She arrived with her husband in 1919 and didn’t retire until 1994, at the age of 99! Not once in her 75 years managing the pub, even following the sudden death of her husband in his fifties, did she close its doors!
Towards the end of her life, villagers ran the pub as a trust, ‘Save The Drewe’, under an agreement with the owners, Whitbread. Once Aunt Mabel moved to a nursing home, however, Whitbread assigned the lease to a tenant ignoring the Community’s preferences. A succession of tenants have had onerous contracts with a succession of Pubcos since then before the freehold has finally been put up for sale.
The Drewe Arms has been owned by breweries and pubcos for as long as anyone can remember. And now it’s on the market. We’ve got a unique opportunity to buy the one of the UKs most remarkable pubs and turn it into an important community asset; protecting its future.
We are raising money to buy, refurbish and run The Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton which has been closed since September 2022, and reopen it as a Community Pub and Social Hub in Autumn 2023.
When you invest in shares you’ll become a member of our society with voting rights, giving you a say in how things are done. You’ll also become an owner of the society's assets alongside other members, meaning you become a co-owner of the Drewe Arms.
We want to bring the Drewe Arms into community ownership and seek to raise a target of £600K in share capital. We've already hit our minimum of £450K and further investment now will help us achieve our aims sooner and reduce our reliance on unpredictable grants and expensive commercial loans.
Opening date: 29th September 2023
Following national press coverage, the campaign has now been extended to allow other interested individuals to invest. It's now planned to close on Sunday 12th November.
Our project has received advanced assurance from HMRC that investments will be eligible for EIS and SEIS tax relief. Full details are on the share offer document.
What happens if we don't meet our target?
If we don't meet our target, Crowdfunder will hold any funds raised for a short time to allow us to look for other sources of funding that could make up any shortfall. If we cannot proceed with the project for any reason, then all investments will be refunded in full. (Update note: we have now reached the minimum we need to be able to purchase the pub and so it is most unlikely that the project will not proceed).