Regulars raise enough money to buy the Bell pub in Bath
Regulars at a popular Bath pub are now in a position to buy the business after a mammoth fundraising campaign has brought in £720,000.
Last month a campaign was launched to raise £500,000 towards the cost of buying The Bell Inn, in Walcot Street.
But The Bell Inn Community Buyout has beaten that target and there were cheers last night as the final total was revealed.
The money raised through a community share issue plus a bank loan will now allow them to make a formal bid to buy the pub, which is famed for its live music, real ale and unique atmosphere.
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The team has been offering shares of between £500 and £20,000 to members of the community who want to get involved.
The campaign was launched after its owner of 23 years Ian Wood decided to put the pub on the market, and punters were worried it might be taken over by a national chain.
General manager at The Bell Patrick Cave said everyone involved had been blown away by the support from the people of Bath and those living further afield.
He said: “It’s gone so well.
“We have raised more than we needed. It’s been absolutely crazy.
“We are absolutely delighted by it all.
“We will be able to borrow significantly less from the bank, which is a good thing because it draws down the risk of the whole enterprise.
“We will also have enough money to do some maintenance on the building and possibly replace the toilets.”
Mr Cave said The Bell Inn Community Buyout would now make an official bid for the pub, which was put up for sale last autumn for £925,000.
He said the legal process of buying the pub was likely to take some weeks but they hoped to hold a celebration in April to mark the transfer of ownership to the Bath community.
He added: “We have huge respect and a huge thank you to all you who have bought shares because it is you that made this happen.
“We have just been overwhelmed by this kind of response.”
Earlier this month the fundraising appeal received a huge boost with a number of famous faces throwing their support behind the campaign.
These have included Robert Plant, Michael Eavis, Peter Gabriel, Will Gregory, from Goldfrapp, Portishead, The Stranglers, Baka Beyond, The Wurzels, Midge Ure, Clare Teal, Eddie Martin, The Vaccines, Radio Banska, Gabrielle Aplin and The Darkness, who have either bought shares or sent messages of support.
For more information about the fundraising appeal, as well as details about the next stages of the process to buy the pub, go to www.bellcommunity.org.uk.