The local Public House is a British institution. In rural areas it is often the social centre of a village, but under-investment, and a lack of adaptation with the times has seen numbers dwindle. Following closures by big brewing companies in ‘uneconomic’ locations, some communities are fighting back by purchasing the building through the ‘More than a Pub’ programme.
We are working with the village of Leasingham in Lincolnshire on such a scheme to transform and extend their Pub, The Duke of Wellington. It was important to locals that they formed the Leasingham Community Benefit Society to own and manage the Pub together. Initially we assisted in the funding bid by appraising the building to show how it could be upgraded and what wider benefits it could offer, without losing the feel of a traditional Pub. Ideas were tested in a questionnaire for all residents which received a fantastic response and many useful suggestions.
The community-led design updates the Pub to make it more welcoming and fully accessible, but also offers more to locals of all ages throughout the day - a key requirement to ensure long-term viability. A new south-facing terrace increases capacity and enjoyment during the warmer months, and links to an external stage for bands and village events in the garden. Inside, a cost-effective refurbishment enlivens the main space to be a bright café during the day and a cosy bar in the evening. The old ‘sports bar’ is upgraded for recreation groups to meet, play games and host events. A daytime creche and youth centre evening complete the picture for younger residents, as well as providing support for parents.
It’s early days for the community pub programme, but many are thriving across the country. We’ve been very excited by the enthusiastic reactions and efforts of local residents and will be working further with Leasingham to keep The Duke of Wellington as a lively social hub.
For further information on community pubs visit: