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Fox and Goose purchase completed - it is now officially West Yorkshire's first Co-operative pub

Friday, 21 March 2014

The buyout of the Fox and Goose pub in Hebden Bridge has finally happened. It is now owned by the community – making it officially West Yorkshire's first Co-operative pub.

The possibility of a co-operative pub was raised on the HebWeb Forum over two years ago, and since then we have produced over a dozen news items covering the transition to a co-op - see below.

Fox buyout

Contracts were exchanged this week (Thurs Mar 20) – meaning the well-loved traditional real ale hostelry has been saved from closure and will remain a pub at the heart of the community now and into the future.

A share offer raised £130,000 to buy and refurbish the historic pub in Heptonstall Road, after it was threatened with closure due to the ill-health of the landlady. (Julia Warren.) More than 200 regulars, local people and pub fans from across the country rallied round to support the campaign and become shareholders in the co-operative.

A 'DIY SOS'-style make-over was being carried out by volunteers throughout the week to get the Fox ready for a grand reopening as a co-operative pub on Saturday - March 22.

This included a wash and brush-up, repainting, new furniture and replacing the beer pumps. The plan is then to carry out the bigger refurbishments such as wiring and heating during closing times – with people sometimes working through the night - to minimise disruption to customers.

The intention is to make the pub more welcoming and comfortable, but nothing will be done which will change its traditional character.

High up on the new co-operative pub agenda is to bring back the extremely popular Fox and Goose beer festival in May.

Councillor Dave Young, a director of the Fox and Goose (Hebden Bridge) Ltd – the Society set up to buy and run the pub for the community – said: "We did it! – This wonderful old pub which is both a well-loved social hub and an important piece of our local heritage is now saved for the community for posterity.

"On behalf of everyone connected with the Fox and Goose and involved in the campaign, I'd like to thank all the people who have backed us throughout and worked so hard to make this dream come true - our loyal supporters, the staff, the local community, the media and co-operative organisations who have all helped to make it happen."

The campaign was supported by The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and the group received help with business planning, incorporation and the preparation of the community share offer document from Dave Hollings at Co-operative and Mutual Solution (CMS) on the Hub's behalf.

Background information

  • The Fox and Goose is now one of 25 co-operative pubs across the UK – and even though more and more pubs are being lost every day, not one of these community-owned premises has had to close. The majority of the co-op pubs tend to be in villages, but Hebden Bridge is a town with a village 'heart' and is well-known for its community spirit.
  • About half of the shareholders are from Hebden Bridge itself, with others coming from across Calderdale and the rest of Yorkshire – but there are also funders from as far afield as London, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Stratford and Burton upon Trent.
  • Unlike many of the pubs saved by communities across the UK, the Fox and Goose had never lost any of its popularity, but was under threat because of the deteriorating health of the landlady. It was never boarded up – and was kept open as a Pop-up bar by loyal staff while the purchase formalities were underway.
  • The Fox and Goose is a traditional real ale pub with no loud music or big screen telly – just good beer, a warm welcome and congenial conversation. Customers are allowed to eat their own food on the premises and it is hailed as one of the most dog-friendly establishments in the country.
  • The pub is steeped in history – with records of an ale house on the site going back to medieval times.
  • Last year Calderdale Council formally listed the Fox as a community asset. It was only the second community asset registered by the council under the Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012 and was the Upper Calder Valley's first community asset.
  • The campaign to save the pub and turn it into a co-operative has been supported throughout by co-operative and community organisations like the Plunkett Foundation, Co-operatives UK, the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, Halifax and Calderdale CAMRA, South Pennine Prospects and Wild Rose Heritage and Arts. Hebden Royd Town Council were "in full support" of the Community Asset application.

Previously, on the HebWeb

HebWeb News: All hands to the pumps as pub prepares for community purchase (11 March 2014)

HebWeb News: Pub co-op buy-out deal gets green light (18 December 2013)

HebWeb News: Glasses are raised as co-operative pub share offer hits its target. (12 August 2013)

HebWeb News: Extra time called as shares bonanza puts co-op pub on target (30 July 2013)

HebWeb News: Last orders call as co-op pub share offer enters final leg. (25 July 2013)

HebWeb News: Fox Friends stall in George’s Square (19 July 2013)

HebWeb News: Fox and Goose: Share Offer Launched to buy Community Pub (17 June 2013)

HebWeb News: Fox and Goose: Share Offer Launched to buy Community Pub (1 May 2013)

HebWeb News: Fox Friends back Co-operative Pub plans (Sept 2012)

HebWeb News - All aboard for the Fox Friends Beer Bus beano

HebWeb News: Fox Friends Drink to the Dirty Half Dozen (5 April 2012)

HebWeb News: Fox and Goose Pub Co-op

HebWeb Forum: Fox and Goose Pub Co-op (Jan-March 2012)