Residents in a village dependent on a “pop-up” pub appearing in their village hall for a few hours on a Saturday night every six weeks are on the brink of launching Scotland’s first community shares option to open their own hostelry.
Villagers in Glenfarg, in Perth and Kinross, are aiming to raise £200,000 to buy land in the main street and build their own pub – The Glenfarg Inn – and welcome their first customers early next year.
The village has been without a pub since The Glenfarg Hotel, which contained a bar, closed its doors over three years ago. Attempts by the community to take over the hotel failed and it was turned into flats.
Glenfarg’s new enterprise is being guided by Community Shares Scotland (CSS), funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland and the Scottish Government.
Local resident Steve Whiting, chairman of the Glenfarg Community Company, who has experience in the licensed trade and owns the HalfWay House pub in Edinburgh, said: “The pub closing down was like having the heart ripped out of the village. It served as a meeting place for people to eat, drink and socialise. It was the number one gathering place for people to catch up with each other and share news.”
David Aird, a retired British Gas engineer, said the pub had been one of main factors which attracted him and his wife to Glenfarg 20 years ago.
“The pub was vibrant. It was somewhere to go on a Saturday night and it would be guaranteed you’d get into conversation with someone. The people I used to meet I don’t see now. If you want to go for a drink you have to get the bus elsewhere and you’re dependent on bus timetables.
“Everything which happened in the pub is dispersed. The wine club is meeting in Arngask Church and the book club is in someone’s house.”
Community shares involves people, both local and supporters, buying a share, with prices varying with projects. Dividends can be taken or reinvested in the enterprise. Projects are owned and governed by the community.
Toby Sandison, CSS programme and communications officer, said: “Glenfarg is interesting because while community pubs are quite well-established in England and Wales they haven’t come to Scotland yet. The culture around pubs here is different but Glenfarg seem to be going more for the more modern gastro-pub idea.
“Three other community pub projects, in North Lanarkshire, the Borders and Stirling, are at the very early, initial stages.”