Back in January 2021 The Old Forge in Knoydart was put on the market and after many discussions and a community consultation the overwhelming response was that we, the community should raise funds to purchase it.
The Old Forge is the remotest pub on mainland Britain and is on the Knoydart Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, accessible by boat or an 18 mile hike over the munros. There are no roads in!. Around 100 people live here and we have a successful model of community ownership and involvement and were one of the first community buyouts in 1999.
Simply put, the Knoydart community already own and manage 17,500 acres of land and we believe the community is best placed to own and manage an asset like the Old Forge.
If you've never been you might not know how important this pub is to our local community and it's visitors. It's world renowned and made it into the Guinness book of records as the remotest pub in mainland Britain.
It's a mecca for hillwalkers who dream about a well earned pint at the end of their 3 day walk to Inverie. Sailors and Yachties are regular visitors to the Forge too and the pub has its own moorings for visiting yachts.
For locals it's always been more than a pub. It's where many of us celebrated important events together as a community. The community buy out of Knoydart in 1999 was celebrated here! Many relationships and friendships were "forged" here and there have been marriages that would never have existed were it not for the Forge.
In it's more recent history the pub has been closed for 6 months over the winter and every Wednesday during the season. This vital social space is shut when it's needed the most.
Under community ownership we are proposing year round opening and vitally year round employment. But we need to act FAST...our real concern is the pub will be sold as a holiday home. Your pledge will help us keep the lights on for years to come!
To be a vibrant and environmentally conscious community owned pub. Welcoming to all and investing in the regeneration and stability of Knoydart. It will offer countless social, environmental and economic benefits to the area, it's residents and visitors.
- Create a friendly and inclusive social hub that's welcoming to all residents and visitors.
- Offer year round employment.
- Offer training and career development opportunities.
- Create an environmentally friendly business model that takes direct action to tackle climate change.
- Actively collaborate with local businesses and organisations to offer complimentary services to the community and visitors.
- Operate a sustainable, robust business that invests profits back into the community.
- Make a concerted effort to support local producers, in turn improving the circular economy.
The pub is on the market for £425,000 for the building only. The other costs of fixtures and fittings, essential works needing to be carried out, the business and goodwill as well as the costs of legal fees and taxes is a much higher figure.
We decided to raise the finances in a multi-strand approach.
1: Grants. - We have been lucky to receive funding from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) and have been successful in obtaining the Community Ownership Fund (COF) which we applied for.
2: Shares. - We launched a community share offer and hit our maximum target set.
3: Crowdfunder. - This is where hopefully you come in. We have been overwhelmed by the response and people getting in touch to offer their support in making The Old Forge pub community owned and the Crowdfunder platform is the ideal place for the public to help us.
Post Purchase Plan (The repair and redevelopment costs have been broken down to 3 phases) :
Phase 1 - Boring but essential:
- kitchen roof,
- 1st phase rewiring,
- water services
- general maintenance.
Phase 2 - Getting interesting …..
- sorting out the toilets
- Refurb existing staff accommodation
- 2nd phase rewiring
Phase 3 - The full monty
- moving the cellar,
- renewing and extending the bar opening into an additional snug bar space.
The fundraising is going to plan with a successful Scottish Land Fund (SLF) application and community/ public share issue. This will give us the money to fund a large proportion of the bricks and mortar purchase costs, some essential works as well as most of the development post . We were successful in obtaining a Community Ownership Fund (COF) which will get us to the end of phase 2 by supporting the essential development costs as well as a proportion of the goodwill. Where you come in more importantly is on our Crowdfunder which will give us the funds to reorganise and improve the pub cellar and create a fantastic, welcoming bar and dining area for locals and visitors alike.
We have been overwhelmed by the response and people getting in touch from far and wide wanting to offer support and are so excited to now be able to finally launch our Crowdfunder .
With our successful share offer launch and grant money awarded from SLF and COF we have reached the finish line. We've raised the money needed for the keys but as mentioned above there is much more to it than the cost of the building. You'd be right to ask why we need more funds. Everyone knows you can't start running a business with no money. Our valuation flagged that we needed to repair the roof, insulate the building, fix the guttering, and vital work is needed on the cellar. We have some of this covered with the income from the grant and share money but this leaves us with no reserves and we want to make the Forge more efficient for staff and a better more comfortable, welcoming place for customers.
We are proposing the money raised from crowdfunder will make a brand new bar and cellar. By moving the cellar to the back of the pub it would allow us have a larger bar with more room in the gantry, making it more efficient for busy shifts and at the same time overhauling the cellar, making it fit for purpose and more practical. This will mean there will be more room within the bar area and you will not be bottle-necked (pardon the pun). The new bar layout makes sense on a practical level and will make the most of the space within the building. However, most importantly, it will keep the Forge atmosphere everyone remembers. The cost of the bar renovation, extension and moving the cellar is £100k and our shortfall is £40,000. We're asking you to help us Raise the Bar - literally!
Don't just take our word for it. Support for our campaign is high and there's a few well known faces who think it's a great idea too!
Sandi Toksvig - Presenter and author
Steve Backshall - Naturalist, author and presenter
Cameron McNeish - Mountaineer, author and columist
Robert Macfarlane - Author
Kate Forbes MSP - Politician
We have come so far already. We are now asking for your help to help us to achieve our goals and to ensure The Old Forge is a great success for generations to come.
You can read our detailed business plan on our website as well as more detail about our successful share offer. www.theoldforgecbs.org
We have also featured on the Radio, TV and in The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Herald, The Scotsman, The National, The Sunday Post, The Daily Record, Daily Mail, The Oban Times, The Press and Journal and The Times as well as The BBC news (link below)
We are almost there and time is of the essence. We can't let this vital asset be sold as a holiday home. We need your help to make it a reality and The Old Forge pub community owned.
You can either click on the donate button at the top right of this page and give a straightforward donation. Alternatively you may like to get something in return and there is something for everyone with a choice of reward to suit you and every budget. Rewards start at just £30 and is a lovely way to get involved and be part of the next chapter of The Old Forge. We hope you can share our story with your friends and family, either on social media (Using the share button) or in person as we are a small community of 100 - we need your help to spread the word!
In the event that we are unsuccessful and fail to secure the Forge, the funds will be returned. If we don't reach our target of £40,000 don't worry - we are still able to use the money raised and reserve the right to use it where necessary. (To be clear our plan is to use the Crowdfunder funds for our new bar and essential cellar - however, It may be that we only raise some of the money needed and can only afford do the works on the cellar.)
*Every reward comes with a shout out on our website wall of supporters and your name handwritten in our Forge Family Tree book that can be viewed in the pub in person unless you ask to be kept anonymous.
The Crowdfunder limited edition T-shirt will be available to send out at the end of March 2022, whereas the other rewards will be dependent on if and when we get the keys. We anticipate the in house personalised rewards will be available from December 2022 and earlier for the Inn Crowd official opening.
With the personalised rewards please be aware we have the right to refuse to inscribe anything that may be deemed offensive.
If you have any questions about anything, please don't hesitate to email us
From The Old Forge Community Benefit Society team,
Isla, Jackie, Rhona, Stephanie, Jacqui, Audrey, Jo, Will and Davie