The Scottish island community who saved the only pub in village with massive whip-around

For islanders and visiting sailors alike, the Anchor Tavern offers a safe haven overlooking the Firth of Clyde.

To lose the pub for good would have been losing part of the village itself.

Now the community of Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute is celebrating its first successful summer after arranging a massive whip-around to buy out the Anchor, which had been shut for a number of years and was the last remaining pub in the village.

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Villagers donated to the fund to buy the pub, raising £105,000. The Scottish Land Fund added a further grant of £150,000 to get the doors open once again. It is now believed to be the only pub on a Scottish island in community hands.

Garry Charnock, of the Port Bannanytyne Development Trust, said the first summer had been more successful than predicted, with live music nights helping to draw in the customers. Sailors berthed at the nearby marina give good custom and evening classes and quizzes help to keep the pub open to as many people in the community as possible.

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Mr Charnock said: “We have had a good summer and it has exceeded our business plan. We are ahead of predictions. Because we are the only pub in Port Bannantyne, the locals are very happy with what we are doing.

Pulling a pint at The Anchor Tavern in Port Bannantyne on the Isle of Bute, which is now in community ownership. PIC: Contributed.
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“The trust has 280 members and the community told us they wanted a pub, so we were really reacting to what they wanted.”

The Anchor Tavern, which also benefited from grants from the Plunkett Foundation and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is central to this year’s Community Land Week, which marks the achievements of 18 communities across Scotland who have taken ownership of land and assets for the benefit of local people

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Linsay Chalmers is the development manager at Community Land Scotland, which organises Community Land Week in conjunction with the Scottish Government.

Ms Chalmers said: “When communities purchase land and buildings, they have the tools to breathe new life into their community.”

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The Anchor Tavern in Port Bannantyne, the last pub in the village to remain open and which is now owed and run by the local community. PIC: Contributed.

Celebrations will also be held in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, where members of the community raised funds to buy land and a warehouse at the harbour to create a visitor hub and heritage centre.

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In Knoydart in Lochaber, seven community-owned enterprises are coming together to share their achievements and expertise on the peninsula, which is accessible only by boat or on foot, for Community Land Week, which runs from today to October 16.

Among them are those behind the Old Forge pub, which came into community ownership in April 2022, and Knoydart Community Hall, which specialises in live music events.

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Some 17,500 acres of the Knoydart are under community ownership, with the trading wing of Knoydart Foundation in charge of a bunkhouse, community shop and venison sales.

Community-owned forestry and renewables in Knoydart are also another community-owned success story.

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Ms Chalmers said: “Community ownership often reverses many years of decline and can unlock energy in a community.

“The purchase of land or buildings increases confidence and can kick-start further economic opportunities, create new jobs, often enable the development of vital housing, building on a growing awareness of environment and heritage to enliven the social life of its people.”

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