Our Story Page
In early 2022, Bampton Valley residents came together with a common goal: to 'Save a Pub for the Valley' under a community ownership model. Over 500 people, from the Valley and beyond, invested a minimum of £100 each to become members of Bampton Valley Community Pub (BVCP) Community Benefit Society (a form of cooperative).
Raising £400,000 in February 2022, we purchased The Mardale Inn in early May 2022. With incredible work from many volunteers and local tradespeople, we reopened for a basic drinks service on July 1st 2022.
Given generous support from a number of key funding partners, we have further developed the pub. Notably in November 2022, with support from The Prince's Countryside Fund, we reopened a kitchen. In May 2023, we reopened 4 refurbished bedrooms in The Mardale Inn building and integrated in 2 bedrooms in the nearby Norbrock House Annex into the pub operation. This was supported by our local council (Westmorland & Furness Council) through their 'Inspiring Eden' economic development fund.
Various local suppliers have partnered with us to help refurbish the pub to a high standard and to demonstrate the best in local sourcing. These suppliers include AJ & D Chapelhow for our windows, Eden Renewables for loft insulation, The Herdy Company for our luxury, pocket sprung mattresses, and Wools of Cumbria for the carpets in our pub bedrooms.
Finally it's important to highlight that we are a proud Member of the Plunkett Foundation, a charity whose purpose is to help communities 'to take control of their challenges [in the rural economy] and overcome them together'. Plunkett has helped hundreds of rural community business over the years. We are delighted to join other community pub and shop successes in Cumbria including 'The Old Crown' at Hesket Newmarket, 'The Butchers Arms' at Crosby Ravensworth, 'The Lowther Arms' in Mawbray and Kirkoswald Shop in Kirkoswald.
We really hope you enjoy your drink, food or stay with us, and you get to experience what makes a community pub so unique. This has all been made possible by hundreds of people and generous partners who came together to secure for future generations a key element of the Valley’s rural heritage.
Further information on our vision, timeline, funding partners and local supplier partners is provided below. For any comments on your experience at The Mardale Inn good or bad (we want to always listen and learn), please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat to staff.
To be a local pub which delivers a vital service to the immediate community
To be a friendly & inclusive pub which welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds, and helps avoid social isolation in the Valley
To be a customer focused pub which helps realise the Valley’s tourism potential, celebrates Cumbrian produce, and supports local income & employment
With rumours circulating of a possible sale, a community group gets together and tries to lodge an 'Asset of Community Value' (ACV) on the 'Crown and Mitre'. An ACV order would prevent it from being sold with out the community being given a 6 week opportunity to make an offer
The application for an ACV on the 'Crown & Mitre' is rejected as the owner successfully argues that 'there are other facilities in the village' (The Mardale Inn - which just reopened in September 2017)
'The Mardale' closes again - but at least the 'Crown & Mitre' is still open for food, drink and overnight stays (mainly 'Coast to Coast' walkers)
'The Crown & Mitre' never reopens to non-residents post pandemic and is being actively marketed for sale. With no ACV in place, the community has to assemble local support, review options and compete with other buyers
The first Public Meeting is held on July 23rd in Bampton Memorial Hall to assess interest in saving a pub for the valley. Over 60 people attend and a survey is launched. 'The Crown & Mitre' is confirmed as having been exchanged for sale 8 days later
The Survey closes with an amazing 186 responses and with over 91% supporting the principle of a Community Pub (9% Maybes). Our results are shared with Plunkett Foundation to access some of their funded support - which they quickly agree to. A follow up Public Meeting on August 19th to review results and talk to everybody about Stage 2 - Feasibility Assessment.
'The Crown & Mitre' sale completes on October 1st - and it is confirmed it will not be reopening as a pub for the Valley. A professional valuation is completed on 'The Mardale' and further feasibility work is completed to prove its suitability as a potential asset of long term value to the community
Another Public Meeting in late October further endorses a community led approach. This website is launched and we start to take our story beyond the Valley
Interest in project ramps and our supporter base grows significantly. Award winning filmmaker and photographer Terry Abraham joins our campaign and shares an exclusive gallery of Valley photos with us. Our local MP, Dr Neil Hudson, confirms his support for the initiative. Our press coverage kicks off with a conversation with on BBC Radio Cumbria.
With the clock ticking down to our share launch target of early February, more people join the 'Save a Pub for the Valley' campaign on the website and social, often drawn by common interest in Withnail or Wainwright, and their past association with Mardale. Our draft business plan and share offer documents are finalised and reviewed by Community Shares Unit. After some changes they are accredited with a Community Shares Standard Mark and ready to be promoted for investment.
The Share Offer is launched on Wednesday February 2nd with over 130 people attending the event either in person or online; coverage kicks off in local press and the campaign is up and running. Within one week, we have achieved over £180,000 in shares sold which is an amazing start. We continue to make progress receiving great coverage in social online and offline in traditional media. With one week to go we just cross the £300,000 mark and then surge through to the final £400,000 maximum target by the end of March 1st!
The purchase of The Mardale Inn is completed and refurbishment kicks off in earnest - exciting times!
Our Funding Partners
We have over 500 shareholders who generously invested to raise £400,000 to establish our Community Benefit Society, Bampton Valley Community Pub, which enabled us to purchase the pub and open for business in basic form.
To really bring the pub back to life, we made many applications for additional grant funding. The funding partners listed below understood what we were trying to achieve for our local community, generously supported us and helped us avoid expensive and risky loans.
We are extremely grateful for their support.
Westmorland & Furness Council's Inspiring Eden provided critical support to enable us to reopen bedrooms & set up Norbrock House (including Bampton Valley Stores)
The Prince's Countryside Fund generously enabled us to open a new kitchen in The Mardale. In addition to serving customers, we can now host community lunches to support social interaction on 'dark winter days' in the Valley.
Lake District Foundation's Low Carbon Fund and their partners enabled us to install vital double glazing to improve the insulation of the Mardale building and thereby reduce our carbon footprint for heating.
The National Lottery's Communities Fund was one of the earliest grants we received enabling us to kick off early remedial work on the The Mardale Inn. This was key to progressing our Phase 1 opening in Summer 2022.