- The Old Forge Community Benefit Society
Knoydart residents seek community buyout of world renowned pub.
After decades of private ownership, residents of the Knoydart peninsula are undertaking a bold plan to bring their local pub under community ownership.
The Old Forge pub, situated in the village of Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula (Lochaber), is known to many as the Guinness World Records ‘Remotest Pub in Mainland Britain’.
Residents were informed mid-January of the current owner’s intention to place the pub on the market and a community consultation was held to gauge local opinion on seeking a community buyout - the response being overwhelmingly supportive.
Jacqui Wallace, co-chair of the steering group, says “The Old Forge plays a vital role in our continued sustainability and we have a great opportunity here to secure its future and bring added benefit to the community that wouldn’t be possible under private ownership.
“Under a community ownership model, profits would be reinvested back into the community which will improve our circular economy and enable us to work on projects that benefit locals and visitors alike.”
The Knoydart community has a track record of successful community ownership, having secured 17,500 acres of the Knoydart Estate in 1999 as one of the first community buyouts in Scotland.
Ms Wallace continues “Pubs are at the heart of every community and it is no different in Knoydart. As well as the obvious economic benefits, more than anything we are focussing on the positive social and environmental impacts we could make if the buyout is successful. Our goal is for the pub to be a welcoming and inclusive social hub for residents and the thousands of visitors we receive each year.”
The steering group are now working to establish a Community Benefit Society with the aim to purchase and manage the pub for community benefit. Of the 110 local residents, over 30 have offered to volunteer their time to the cause and working groups have been set up for all aspects of the project from business planning and fundraising to post-purchase management plans.
Izidor Kresnik, a steering committee volunteer and owner of a self-catering property on the peninsula says “As the only pub on Knoydart, The Old Forge is a very important establishment to the community. Under community ownership the pub would contribute greatly to the local economy as well as working in tandem with other local businesses. The pub also serves as a vital social asset to local residents, especially during the cold winter months when so many can feel particularly isolated.
“As the peninsula's top tourist attraction, the pub is very influential to the reputation of Knoydart as a whole. It therefore makes sense that it be run in a way that democratically includes the voices of many local residents.”