We are raising funds for the development of a strong community bid to buy the 16th Century White House Pub in the village of Bladon in Oxfordshire. Bladon is the burial place of Sir Winston Churchill and the White House is the pub where he learned to drink! But even more importantly, it is the last remaining pub in the village, and the only community facility we have left. Our aim is to buy the pub and run it for the benefit of every member of the community - a warm and friendly place for local people to gather, where community groups can meet and vital services can be offered.
Every little helps - this is a 'flexible' crowdfund so we will receive all pledges when the window closes on 10th December.
Your support will help us complete a thorough feasibility assessment of the project and produce a Community Share Offer. Any funds which we raise through this crowdfunding campaign which we don’t use for the preparation of the bid will be put towards to financing of the purchase, refurbishment and working capital requirements of running the pub for the benefit of the community.
Our story so far
The White House pub has been at the heart of the Bladon community since the 16thCentury and is the last remaining pub and community facility in the village. It's also the pub where Churchill “learned to drink” when he lived at nearby Blenheim Palace. With a growing population of just under 1,000 residents and thousands of visiting tourists, this important and historic pub is the lifeblood of our community. Anticipating that the current owners, Greene King, would try to sell the White House at some point, in June 2019 Bladon Parish Council, with the support of Bladon villagers, successfully applied to West Oxfordshire District Council for the pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). In September the pub was put on the market, and the community now has until March to put in a bid to buy and manage the future of the pub.
A group of concerned residents have formed a committee and are in the process of registering the Bladon Community Benefit Society with a view to raising the necessary funds to purchase the pub and run it for the benefit of the entire community. A community meeting has been held, attended by over 90 people from the village, and many more volunteers have come forward as well as over 150 members of the community who have pledged to buy shares in the pub once the share offer is released. Furthermore, 138 people responded to an online and print questionnaire. giving their overwhelming support for the project.
Now it is our job to make this project a reality!
Our Vision for the Pub
Our aim is to secure the future of the White House for the benefit of Bladon, the wider community and visiting tourists, as a flourishing friendly and welcoming village pub. The pub will be a free house that serves local beers and sensibly priced, freshly cooked, good food prepared using locally sourced ingredients. It will be the heart of the village as a place for social gathering, cultural activities, somewhere to meet people and exchange information, and it will promote a cohesive and friendly community in the area. We would intend to run a programme of monthly and weekly evening events at the pub (e.g. quiz, music, specialist food nights, sports activities such as Aunt Sally), day-time events for local residents (e.g. being open for breakfast for school-run parents and early morning dog walkers, running a day time book club), and provide a base and lunchtime venue for visitors to Winston Churchill's grave and the neighbouring Blenheim Palace Park.
Our vision is that a thriving, community owned White House would be ‘more than a pub’ and deliver charitable outcomes by enabling greater community cohesion, improving access to community services and help reduce social isolation for the growing elderly population in the village.
We intend to register as a Community Benefit Society (CBS) with a large membership base primarily drawn from the villages in the immediate vicinity of the pub. Although we will market our community share offer more widely, the democratic governance structure of the CBS will ensure that local people will remain in control of the society and its pub.
We are seeking to raise – as a matter of some urgency – development funds to cover the costs of a feasibility study, developing business and community benefit plans, legal registration as a CBS, preparing a community bid and raising finance to purchase the pub.
We are also seeking to raise funds to purchase and refurbish the pub and to cover working capital requirements of running the pub, through a combination of community shares, loans, grants and other donations, in anticipation that our bid will succeed. The figure required will be defined through our feasibility and business planning. It will depend upon negotiation on the purchase price and we need funding now to pay for a valuation survey, full structural survey and the set up costs for the Community Benefit Society.
This crowdfunding campaign focuses on raising ‘development’ funds to cover the costs of preparing the community bid, and all the supporting activity necessary to do this.
Any funds we raise through this crowdfunding campaign which we don’t use for the preparation of the bid will be put towards financing of the purchase, refurbishment and working capital requirements of running the pub for the benefit of the community. If we are not successful in buying the pub, any surplus funds will be distributed to organisations with similar community aims in the area.