In January 2021, the Knoydart community were informed that the current owner of The Old Forge pub had decided to sell up. The community arranged a consultation to seek views on a community buyout, which was overwhelmingly supported.
Following this, the group approached the Community Shares Scotland (CSS) team to discuss funding options and next steps. The community consulted with their members and decided to lodge an application with the Scottish Land Fund (SLF), UK Community Ownership Fund (COF) and register as a Community Benefit Society (CBS) in order to issue community shares.
The CSS team connected the group with the Plunkett Foundation who connected them to the community pubs network and peer to peer support and Co-operative Development Scotland who provided support around which business model was best suited to the groups aims.
In addition to the funding from SLF and COF, the purchase of the pub was going to be bolstered by a community share offer. The CSS team worked with the group to prepare the share offer document and provided a CSS Microgrant to cover costs for promoting the offer including a launch event, print media and digital advertising.
In September 2021, the community share offer launched and within just three weeks the group had raised a phenomenal £256,035 with a later donation based crowdfunding campaign in November raising £66,496 allowing the group to make an offer to the seller.
The group were able to reach their target relatively quickly in part due to a non-local investors minimum of £10,000 which was settled on through an earlier pledge campaign showing how many members they might expect and how much was needed.
In March 2022 the community benefit society, the Old Forge CBS took ownership of the pub and it was all hands on deck to ensure the pub was open in time for Easter 2022. Now the pub is once again providing locals with a community space to come together and attracts visitors from far and wide. During the winter of 2022/23 the pub will undergo a refurbishment with plans to re-open the kitchen in Spring 2023.