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Community-owned Craufurd Arms hosts beer festival

It was drinks all around this weekend as the UK's 50th community pub celebrated it's new-found status with a mini festival of its own.

The Craufurd Arms in Gringer Hill began the festivities on Friday (July 21) evening with a night to thank everyone involved for their hard work and for all the support the pub had received from the community.

The pub's journey into community ownership started in 2015 when regulars and residents succeeded in having the Craufurd Arms, one of the town’s oldest pubs, listed as an Asset of Community Value.

So in August 2016 when the owner, the Wellington Pub Company, announced it was selling the property, locals acted quickly to set up the Craufurd Arms Society Limited (CASL).

A community share offer followed in February this year and soon raised £310,000 from 226 people investing sums between £250 and £25,000.

Added to a grant from More Than A Pub, and a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance, this was enough to proceed with the purchase of the pub.

The transfer of ownership was completed while continuing to serve its loyal customers.

CASL secretary, Emily deFraine said: "Lots of people have said they used to come here and are now coming back.

"The old landlady donated an old picture of the pub and said I think it should come home."

Speaking on Saturday, the 34-year-old added: "Last night was a celebration to say thank you to the members, supporters and pub regulars for all their help and hard work.

"It was a fabulous place to be last night, with more than 100 people turning up."

Over the weekend guests could enjoy live music, a selection of real ales and ciders, a barbecue, plus games and face painting for the kids.

CASL secretary, Steve Pritchard said he offered to lend his help as he works in finance.

He said: "It was just a skill that was needed and I do care about the fact so many pubs had closed down in the area.

"We will be revamping but it's important we don't lose its character while breathing some life into it."

The child-friendly, dog-friendly pub has two crib teams, two darts teams and shows a wide range of sports on TV.

It also hosts regular quiz nights, live music gigs and is planning to sponsor two local football teams.

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