We need to raise £150,000 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to support our bid to buy, refurbish and run The Puzzle Hall Inn for the benefit of the community, supporting people and bringing them together. The bid is in, and we are in discussions with the owners.
If we're successful, we'll be able to re-open the Puzzle, bringing back everything that was great about it, only this time under the ownership of the people who'll love it - you!
You'll become an owner of the pub alongside fellow investors. We're able to offer small rates of interest to investors and allow you to be repaid your investment in the future (provided we hit our trading targets).
The pub has been closed since January 2016 and despite being for sale since April of this year, no buyers have yet come forward.
The Puzzle has been in use since the 1800s, and became a proper pub when in 1905, Lydia Platt took it over and built a tower at the back of the building to brew her own beer.
But the venue came into its own in the 1980s when regulars Geoff Amos and Pete Martin dreamt up the idea of hosting jazz concerts every Tuesday.
Over the years, there were 850 jazz concerts, featuring over 4250 artists. They were packed out, with internationally renowned jazz artists making a point of stopping at the riverside pub to try out old and new music on an audience they could depend on.
These artists attracted other artists, and dreamers attracted dreamers, and the camaraderie brought in everybody else. This is how music became woven into the fabric of Puzzle Inn Hall.
The music diversified, and a stage was built outside to enable festivals to take place, and soon, every type of music was being played to an enthusiastic crowd.
The building has suffered from lack of investment for many years and more recently considerable vandalism and is now in a sad state of repair with no tenant interested in taking it on. Until now!
With secret staircases, poetry societies, and internationally renowned touring artists making a stop, The Puzzle is a local titan of culture, and has earned a place amongst the greats. With your help we will buy, repair, refurbish and run the Puzzle Hall Inn for the benefit of the community.
“The Friends of the Puzzle Hall Inn” was set up as a Facebook page in April 2017 to judge the level of interest in purchasing the Puzzle as a community owned pub.
Since then we've carried out research and a feasibility study, a wide range of community consultation and marketing activities, procured professional surveys and advice, negotiated with the vendors and developed a comprehensive business plan and share offer.
We all care passionately about The Puzzle, the social role it plays, and the future heritage of the area. The founders and Directors of the Society who have compiled this community share offer will not benefit from their voluntary work, or have any additional personal interest over and above that associated with any shares that they purchase on the same basis as any other applicant.
During the period of refurbishment, we will advertise for and recruit a manager for the pub who will reside in the first-floor accommodation. The manager will be offered a competitive rate with an incentive bonus based on net profit.
We are raising money to buy The Puzzle, complete extensive repairs and refurbishment, buy and install fixtures and fittings, buy stock, and open and run the pub (inclusing professional fees involved in raising the cash and completing the purchase).
We are planning a complete program of repair, refurbishment of the inside and outside stage areas, the cellar and bar, renew the toilets for accessibility, install Wi-Fi to facilitate community group activities, install an induction loop and good quality PA, mixing desk and sound system.
In year 1 we have also added in some contingency amounts for unforeseen expenses, and a buffer of working capital to enable us to get through the first year as we find our feet.
The benefits to the community...
- Securing the iconic Puzzle Hall Inn as a long-term asset for the community.
- A safe, supportive, accessible environment for everyone, including older people, teenagers, minority groups and isolated individuals, to feel welcome and meet people
- An events program supporting and promoting local live music
- An attractive, flexible, multi‐purpose, facility that enables participation in social, cultural and leisure activities for all sectors of the community
- Support and investment in other community projects that meet our values
The benefits to you...
- Being part of a community project that makes a difference to people, tackling social cohesion, loneliness and isolation and increasing belonging. Everyone who supports the Puzzle in some way is part of this: ‘Be A Piece of The Puzzle’
- Membership of the society which owns the pub and elects the board of Directors who oversee the pub
- We've applied for tax relief for the investment which, if successful (and we expect to be) will mean every investor who pays income tax can claim up to 50% of the value of their investment back against their tax return
There's more information about the share issue, your rights as a shareholder, about us and our interim board of Directors in the Share Offer Document, which can be downloaded here. We'd encourage everyone thinking of investing to have a read first to be sure you understand what you're buying.
There's more detail about the projected finances for the pub in community ownership and our marketing plan in the business plan, which you can download here.
Anyone investing agrees to be bound by the rules of the society, which are available here.
Application forms for individual investors paying offline can be found here, and for joint shareholdings, companies and clubs here.