The Drewe Arms Journey from Closure to Crowdfunding Success

by Tom Wood | Jan 11, 2024 | Community & citizenship, Community Shares, Stories

The Drewe Arms Journey from Closure to Crowdfunding Success

In the picturesque village of Drewsteignton, nestled in Dartmoor National Park, stands the historic Drewe Arms, a pub with a rich legacy and a place at the heart of the community. However, like many traditional pubs, the Drewe Arms faced the threat of closure, and its doors were shut for an entire year, leaving a void in the village’s social fabric.

Peter Clements, a member of the team involved in the community share offer, expanded on this in a short interview with Crowdfunder. “Drewsteignton is a small village on Dartmoor.  The Post Office/grocery shop and the restaurant in the village have both closed in the last 1-2 years.  The loss of the pub meant we were losing a key aspect that held the community together.”

The turning point came when a passionate group of community members decided that the Drewe Arms deserved a second chance. They envisioned transforming it into not just a pub but a vibrant hub for the entire community. The idea was ambitious – to bring the Drewe Arms into community ownership. And so began the journey of a community determined to save its beloved pub.

Peter continued, “We needed to raise a lot of money.  Plus we wanted to turn the pub into a hub for more than simply serving drinks/food.  We wanted to make it a centre of the community fulfilling a variety of roles from a venue for gigs/events through to arts classes and fitness clubs.  We wanted people to buy into this concept, and feel a sense of ownership of their pub.”

The Community Share Offer was launched with a bold goal of raising £600,000 to purchase the freehold of the Drewe Arms. The campaign kicked off on the 29th of September 2023, marking the beginning of a crucial chapter in the history of this iconic pub. The rallying cry reached far and wide, drawing attention not just from locals but from supporters across the country who recognized the value of preserving such a historic and culturally significant establishment.

The Drewe Arms, described as a legend in the annals of historic rural pubs by CAMRA, had a unique charm that resonated with anyone who had ever stepped through its doors. Its simplicity was its beauty, and memories of warm conversations and ale poured from the cask lingered in the minds of those who had experienced its hospitality. The community, unwilling to let this charm be lost, embarked on a journey to revive the Drewe Arms and bring it back to life.

The vision was comprehensive. Beyond just reopening the pub, the community sought to restore it to its former glory – a vibrant, warm, and friendly place that would serve as a social hub for all ages. Plans were set in motion to renew the ‘Long Room,’ the traditional social center of the village, and to introduce a Community Kitchen and café. Local, sustainable suppliers would be prioritized, providing not only great, simple food but also employment and training opportunities for the community.

The Drewe Arms had a history that stretched back centuries, mentioned in The Doomsday Book, and managed by the legendary Mabel Mudge, the UK’s longest-serving landlady. Despite the challenges faced by successive tenants under various ownerships, the Drewe Arms had persevered, and now the community was determined to secure its future.

The fundraising details were laid out transparently – a minimum share subscription of £100 and a maximum of £50,000, with up to 5% interest paid annually from year 5 onwards. The campaign gained momentum, fueled by the passion of the community and the uniqueness of the Drewe Arms’ history.

When he was asked why they chose Crowdfunder to run their community share offer, Peter was pleased with the decision. “[Crowdfunder’s] track record was very reassuring.  Plus the service we received on a one-one basis was very helpful.  No one on our team had experience of doing this kind of thing before – so your advice on how to navigate the process was invaluable. In particular the specific marketing tactics during the campaign yielded a lot of additional investment.”

And then, on the 12th of November 2023, the community’s collective efforts paid off. The Drewe Arms successfully raised an impressive £547,210 from 508 investors in just 44 days. The outpouring of support exceeded expectations, demonstrating the widespread belief in the importance of preserving this historic pub as a community asset.

The success of the Drewe Arms crowdfunding campaign was not just a financial achievement; it was a testament to the power of community spirit and determination. The Drewe Arms had been saved, not just as a historic building but as a living, breathing testament to the indomitable spirit of community. And speaking of the future of the venue, Peter noted they had plans. “We’ve got a lot of great ideas.  Many of them from the community.  It’s going to be very rewarding, and enjoyable seeing those implemented over the coming months and years.  We all want to see the pub on a much more robust commercial and community footing to it can serve local residents in all sorts of ways for decades to come.”

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