Contracts were exchanged on Thursday, March 20, meaning the well-loved traditional real ale hostelry has been saved from closure and will remain a pub at the heart of the community now and into the future.
A share offer raised £130,000 to buy and refurbish the historic pub in Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge, after it was threatened with closure due to the ill-health of the landlady, Julia Warren.
More than 200 regulars, local people and pub fans from across the country rallied round to support the campaign and become shareholders in the co-operative.
A ‘DIY SOS’-style make-over was being carried out by volunteers throughout the week to get the Fox ready for a grand reopening as a co-operative pub on Saturday - March 22.
This included a wash and brush-up, repainting, new furniture and replacing the beer pumps. The plan is then to carry out the bigger refurbishments such as wiring and heating during closing times – with people sometimes working through the night - to minimise disruption to customers.
The intention is to make the pub more welcoming and comfortable, but nothing will be done which will change its traditional character.
High up on the new co-operative pub agenda is to bring back the extremely popular Fox and Goose beer festival in May.
Councillor Dave Young, a director of the Fox and Goose (Hebden Bridge) Ltd – the society set up to buy and run the pub for the community – said: “We did it! – This wonderful old pub which is both a well-loved social hub and an important piece of our local heritage is now saved for the community for posterity.
“On behalf of everyone connected with the Fox and Goose and involved in the campaign, I’d like to thank all the people who have backed us throughout and worked so hard to make this dream come true - our loyal supporters, the staff, the local community, the media and co-operative organisations who have all helped to make it happen.”
The campaign was supported by The Co-operative Enterprise Hub and the group received help with business planning, incorporation and the preparation of the community share offer document from Dave Hollings at Co-operative and Mutual Solution (CMS) on the Hub’s behalf.
The Fox and Goose is now one of 25 co-operative pubs across the UK – and even though more and more pubs are being lost every day, not one of these community-owned premises has had to close. The majority of the co-op pubs tend to be in villages, but Hebden Bridge is a town with a village ‘heart’ and is well-known for its community spirit.
About half of the shareholders are from Hebden Bridge itself, with others coming from across Calderdale, including Todmorden, and the rest of Yorkshire – but there are also funders from as far afield as London, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Stratford and Burton upon Trent.