CORRECTION: 14th April 2011. The Miners Arms Inn in Acomb is still open for business despite being put up for sale, contrary to what yesterday's report suggested. Read full correction
VILLAGERS are determined that it’s now time to starting pulling pints again.
Locals at Acomb, near Hexham, are determined to get The Miners Arms Inn up and running, and 30 villagers have come together to explore the prospect of forming a co-operative. The 265-year-old pub is on the market for £230,000 and even went to auction last autumn but remained unsold.
Now, with co-owners Lynn Crozier and her brother Campbell Donald looking to move on, the village is rallying round to keep the old-fashioned watering-hole on tap. Acomb villagers Kate Trinder and Penny Hamlin are leading the way and Penny, who lives opposite The Miners, said: “We called a public meeting to ask people whether they would be prepared to show enough interest in a co-operative.
“Thirty people turned up – that is real interest, and a very good turn-out.
“It’s a great old pub and does very good beer, including Real Ale, and has no sports screen or anything like that.
“It’s different to the other pubs in the village and we like it just as it is.
“But Lynn and Campbell want to sell and while they aren’t going to shut down immediately, it’s been on the market for quite a while and we want to get its future sorted out.”
Added Penny: “The purpose of the first meeting this week was to see if there was any interest in taking anything forward – and there certainly was!
“People were asking how co-operatives work and what had to be done, so now we are going to go to people who have been through it themselves to give us advice.”
That meant a call to Britain’s first co-operatively-owned pub, The Old Crown, at Hesket Newmarket on the northern edge of the Lake District.
There, in 2003, 125 villagers formed a co-operative to keep the pub open – and hosts Keith and Edna Graham and Joanne Richardson now have a thriving business. “We are inviting the people from The Old Crown to our next meeting after Easter to give us advice on how to go about it,” added Penny. “They, of course, can speak from experience.
“We will then look and see if it is viable – if, say, 120 people came up with £1,500 each, or half as many came up with twice as much each, then we would be in business. It’s early days yet, and if it didn’t work out we still might not take it any further. But the interest certainly appears to be there.”
Said Lynn: “The pub is a very successful business. I would like to see the villagers take it over if they kept it as it is, and a co-operative could be the way to do it.”