The Northumberland Arms Community Society Limited

The Northumberland Arms Community Society Limited

The Northumberland Arms Community Society are aiming to save 'The Thumb' through a community share offer and re-open as a great pub & cafe

We did it!

On 30th Sep 2017 we successfully raised £298,100 of £296,000 target with 191 investors in 29 days
Community Share Project

New stretch target

To go towards further refurbishment works and possible extensions to The Northumberland Arms.

£350,000 is the funding cap set by The Society as the maximum amount to be raised by the Community Share Offer.

Help save The Northumberland Arms from permanent closure!

This is an opportunity to buy shares and become a shareholder of The Northumberland Arms Community Society Limited, a Community Benefit Society (The Society) registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

This is not just about saving a pub, it is about so much more than a pub. This is about creating a community hub and creating new facilities for the local community and surrounding area. This is your chance to be a part owner of a traditional local pub in the village of Marple Bridge. Please read our Share Offer  document and our Business plan which can be found at the bottom of this page.


The Thumb has been a pub serving our community since 1824

Why are we doing it?

Our vision is to create a central focal point for village life which will act as a catalyst to re-ignite the economy and sense of community in Marple Bridge and Compstall. Besides re-opening the pub, we will bring a café and essentials shop to the village, have a base for community activities, and bring back trade lost following the closure of the business by Robinsons.

The Northumberland Arms has been a thriving pub in the past. However, over the last two decades it has declined under the ownership of a  brewery who had not invested in the building, in marketing, or in business development.

Frederic Robinson Ltd closed the pub in January 2017, and placed the pub on the open market inviting offers of £250,000 and above. After a lot of positive discussion, Robinsons have given the community the opportunity to raise the money to buy the pub.

Bringing The Northumberland Arms into community ownership will ensure the success and sustainability of the business by enabling the community to develop the facilities to meet their needs, rather than serving the financial demands of a brewery under a tied-house model. Community ownership will also ensure the business works alongside existing village businesses rather than competing directly with them.

The aim is to open The Northumberland Arms as soon as possible after taking possession, carrying out essential refurbishment and redecoration of the bar area and staff living accommodation and tackling items of building fabric repair.

Why should you invest?

If, like us, you feel that too many pubs are closing, and the heart is being taken out of our communities, this is your opportunity to make a difference. By investing in this community-owned venture you will be part of a growing number of people seeking to take back control over their local area. The Northumberland Arms, reopened as a pub, café and community hub will offer a welcoming place for people to eat, drink, chat and socialise. We will encourage social cohesion, communal activities, music events, fundraising events and participation in games and sports leagues. We will provide a social environment for people to eat and/or drink on their own, in couples, with family and friends – or with other pub users.

This is your chance to invest in a community business where the benefits are not only social, you will become a co-owner of an iconic village pub,  receive annual interest payments on your investment when profits allow, be eligible ( true for most taxpayers) to reclaim up to 50% of investment from HMRC against your tax liability through SEIS or SITR scheme for current or previous year ( investment needs to be held for a minimum of 3 years to qualify), beable to  join in special shareholder events, and  be eligible for our prize draw - FREE BEER FOR A YEAR!

The central area of Marple Bridge around town street has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years, boasting a vibrant scene of bars and restaurants along with a post office, doctor’s surgery, florists, clothing shops and hair salons etc. However, the difficulties faced by individual businesses within the northern portion of the area (the Compstall and the Marple Bridge area between the River Etherow and Glossop Road) are made clear from the fact that over the last 30 years or so the area has lost three pubs and whereas there was formerly a bakery, a sweet shop, a hardware shop, and a greengrocer. We now only have a butcher, a wine shop, and a post office / grocery shop in the area. The geography of the area with its steep hills can make access to relatively nearby facilities difficult for some of the areas older and less agile residents. This is your chance to arrest this cycle of decline.

How much will it cost?

We have agreed Heads of Terms with Frederic Robinson Ltd at £217,000 +VAT which we think is a fair price for The Northumberland Arms. We will also need to raise sufficient funds to cover legal fees, administering the share offer, printing, and publicity. Once we have bought the pub we will need money for setting up our business, buying stock, refurbishments and running capital. This we estimate would amount to £79,000 on top of the purchase price. More detailed financial information is in the Business Plan.

Here is what we plan to do.

Buy The Northumberland Arms, Marple Bridge at a reasonable market value. This will ensure that any investment you make is as safe as it can be. Remember any investment can go down in value.

Restructure the way the business works, this will not affect the way the pub looks but change the way it works to reflect community needs. We will open a café and ‘essentials’ shop, we will have special events on in the evening, we will restore the pub to its former glory and vitality.

Refurbish the pub; The Northumberland Arms has suffered underinvestment over the years – we want to make it look and feel loved again. We have a list of improvements we want to make, mostly cosmetic, but some underlying infrastructure issues that need attention. Further details are in the Business Plan.

What are you investing in?

The Northumberland Arms is a pub that has been serving food and drink since the 1824. It used to be a thriving pub attracting visitors from Marple, Romiley, Bredbury, Mellor, Offerton and Compstall as well as serving the local community. The Northumberland Arms was pivotal in the lives of the few hundred families who live in the immediate vicinity and the many regulars who visit the premises from further away. It was their social club, meeting place, sports centre, and community hub.

The Project Proposals

The vision we have for The Northumberland Arms is for it to become a focal point of the community through the provision of various services which are:

 As a fantastic local pub with an excellent reputation – not only for serving real ale and craft beers, wines and spirits and sensibly priced wholesome food, but also for its warm, friendly, inclusive atmosphere. This will be achieved with outstanding customer service, and by embracing the community it serves, providing food and facilities for all residents regardless of age or gender.

 'The Thumb' as it is affectionately known has always had a very warm and welcoming atmosphere, helped in no small part by the architecture of the pub which retains its original multi room layout. We intend to build on that reputation and atmosphere and restore the pub to its former glory.  

Pub activities could include folk music nights, stand-up comedy nights, a book club, a golf society, poetry evenings, themed food nights and guest speakers. Re‐engaging with pub sports teams (pool and darts, football), sponsoring local sporting events and having a regular quiz night and forming a competitive quiz league with other local pubs would also help engage the community.

We have had many exciting ideas proposed, including forming a ‘Red Barrows’ wheelbarrow display team, regularly having a pop-up restaurant allowing keen local amateur chefs the chance to take over the kitchen and serve their food to our customers, brass band competitions, a kids Christmas party with gifts funded by the society, an OAP’s (Old Age Punks) music night, DJ sets, after school club for parents only, a theatre group, a kazoo and ukulele orchestra etc. etc. The list is only limited by the community’s desire and passion for such ideas.

 The pub would serve the local community and passing visitor trade as well as supporting other local businesses (e.g. the butcher’s shop, off licence, Indian take away, post office and other local pubs) by providing added reasons to stay and enjoy the area.

As a place to meet / daytime café. Critically there is no ability in the immediate area for members of the community to have casual, impromptu meetings or get togethers throughout the day; we currently do not have anywhere within easy walking distance to meet and chat. This is particularly important for the older residents who may not have access to a car and is especially true for village residents who may not be traditional pub users; we see the café facility as broadening the appeal of the project to all members of the community. The facility would help to connect people such as parents dropping off and picking up children from local schools, elderly residents, the increasing numbers of people isolated at home, those working from home etc. Through this we can increase community cohesion, improve well-being, and help bring the whole community together.

Our vision is to create a café serving high quality breakfasts, brunches, and lunches at reasonable prices, with a reputation for excellent coffee, speciality teas and locally produced cake etc. This would have the same vibrant atmosphere as the pub, with quiet corners to relax and read the paper, grab and go take away offers etc. It will also offer internet access for people who do not have a provision at home.

As an essentials shop. We’ve all run out of milk for the kids’ breakfast at 10pm at night, forgot to buy loo roll, discovered there’s no pasta in the cupboard 10 minutes before we start to make tea. We intend to stock basic household and food items, not on display but with a list of items available to those who require them. This will bring a great convenience feature to the business and further enhance community use and engagement.

As a resource for visitors, we want the building not only to meet the needs of local people, but also embrace the multitude of visitors who currently pass through the village. The pub is situated close to Etherow Country Park and Brabyns park, and is close to the nationally recognized Farmer Johns MTB park, yet there are no local pubs which really serve this type of We would hope that by offering good quality but reasonably priced food and providing a welcoming and attractive venue for walkers and cyclists we can build up a good outdoor clientele by word of mouth as these pursuits are carried on very much year-round.

We also plan to publish and encourage a series of walking and mountain bike routes around the nearby areas in conjunction with local ramblers and cycling clubs. Again, we could capitalise on this by offering secure bike friendly parking.

 As a resource for regeneration of the area, attracting more visitors to the village can only be a good thing as it will provide more customers for the existing pubs and village shops. We are conscious that villages such as Marple Bridge require a ‘critical mass’ of businesses that can feed off and support each This is true of the centre of Marple Bridge and but facilities at Cote Green and Compstall have suffered decline over a long period. We are confident that the Community Hub will provide a means for retaining village centre facilities that the other, existing businesses can benefit from.

 As a resource to build and retain the community of the area, creating a facility that provides the wealth of services and activities that the project has to offer can be no bad thing. We hope that this will help us build and sustain our wonderful warm friendly community.

We believe we have put together a strong business case to show how a community owned pub in Marple Bridge and Compstall can be a success, by reflecting what the people of Marple Bridge and Compstall want from their pub. Whist we intend to pay interest on your investment of up to 5% a year and there is tax relief available, what you are really investing in is the future of the community of Marple Bridge and Compstall. We, the people of the area, will have a pub in the village for as long as we want one – because we will own it.


Why did The Northumberland Arms close?

Despite being a viable thriving local pub, The Northumberland Arms, owned by Frederic Robinson Ltd, closed its doors after the previous tenants retired in January 2017. Robinsons, as the owner of a medium sized estate of tied houses, are subject to a Code of Practice with regards new tenancies, and because the pub has had little investment over the preceding 20 years Robinsons appraisal of the premises and refurb costs precluded it from remaining a part of their tied estate.

 We aim to turn the pub around simply by providing more of what local people want from their pub, and diversifying the business to include a café and essentials shop. 

Our business plan and share offer documents are available for download here

In developing our plans, we have received support from three organizations with extensive experience of community ownership of pubs – Co-operative and Mutual Solutions, the Plunkett Foundation and Pub Is The Hub.   We have recieved Community Shares Standard Mark accreditation for our Business plan and Share offer.

Benefits of Investing

In addition to helping to SAVE The  Northumberland Arms for this and future generations and turning it into a thriving community pub, cafe and hub that you want to visit, why else would you want to invest?  This is why:-

  • To become a co-owner of an iconic village pub
  • To receive annual interest payments on your investment when profits allow
  • To be eligible ( true for most taxpayers) to reclaim up to 50% of investment from HMRC against your tax liability through SEIS or SITR scheme for current or previous year ( investment needs to be held for a minimum of 3 years to qualify)
  • To join in special shareholder events
  • To be eligible for our prize draw - FREE BEER FOR A YEAR!

PLEASE NOTE - By making a pledge you are registering your intention to invest. Your money will only be taken if the owner agrees to the sale of the pub. We have already raised almost £60k via our postal share application.


Use a combination of pledges to add up to the total you want to invest

Remember, this is an investment, not a donation!

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