Spotlight on: Pengwern Arms, Llan Ffestiniog
Throughout Co-operatives Fortnight 19 June – 3 July, several co-operatives in Wales will be featured on the Radio Wales Jamie and Louise Show 9am to midday. We will also be telling their stories, and others, here on our blog.
Pengwern Arms, Llan Ffestiniog
The Pengwern Arms is a 200-year old inn that stands on the village green in Llan Ffestiniog, opposite the parish church.
In January 2009, the Pengwern Arms closed its doors for the last time, the final one of four pubs in the village to close down. The building was put up for sale.
It took a few days for it to sink in with local residents, but when it did, they decided to do something about it.
Blaenau Ffestiniog town councillor Mel Goch Ap Meirion said: “I was sitting at home thinking I must speak to so-and-so, but never mind I’ll see him at the quiz on Monday – then I thought, there’s not going to be a quiz on Monday, or any Monday after that, because the place is closed.”
A public meeting was held at the Pengwern in the spring of 2009, just before it closed. The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the support of the community. Over fifty people attended, all of who were keen to try and re-open the hotel. Several messages of support were also received from people who were unable to attend.
Locals formed a committee (Grwp Pengwern Cymunedol), with Mel Goch ap Meirion as chairman, to investigate the possibility of creating a “co-op pub” and give local residents their own stake in the Pengwern. They meet every Wednesday to discuss their plans for the pub.
“We’d preferably like to run it as a community venture,” he said at the time. “We discussed the option of going in with a brewery but the problem is that you get tied to them too closely.
“There has been a lot of support from the local community. We need to discuss what our options are. It all depends what they are planning to do with the building. We’ll just have to take it one step at a time.”
By January this year the group were a step closer to securing the future of the last pub in their village. A price of £185,000 was agreed on the building, and the community needed to raise £18,500 for the deposit.
The community rallied round and the money was quickly raised. Shares were sold to 150 people, with a minimum investment of £100, and the committee took over the pub. Additional funds were also raised for a working capital to restock and refurbish the pub.
However, there has been a lot of work to do and a new licence to apply for. The Pengwern Arms is on the verge of reopening, following lots of support from volunteers to redecorate and help run the pub when its doors finally open.
But the committee needs to raise a further £166,500 by the middle of December 2010 to take ownership of their own pub. There are many events planned to raise the required payment and ideas for the pub include running it as a hotel and adding a cyber cafe for the area’s youngsters.
Bini Jones, one of the key people behind the plan to reopen the pub, says: “Our latest meeting went really well – everything is moving in the right direction and we are looking to open later this year but we don’t want to set an exact date.
“We originally said we would go for March 1st but when that passed, we felt we had let the village down, but there are so many hoops to jump through.
“The bash [fundraiser] on June 26 is our last fundraiser to get the money in so we can open, to make sure we have got enough capital to go ahead.”
There has been a pub on the site of the Pengwern in the centre of Llan Ffestiniog for nearly three hundred years. The Pengwern used to be an important location for the drovers as it was used as a place to shoe the animals before crossing the Migneint. It was originally called ‘Yr Efail’ (The Smithy) but was changed to The Pengwern Arms Hotel sometime in the 19th century.
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