As It Happens

How this village banded together to save the most remote pub in mainland Britain

It's been more than a year since the owner of the most remote pub on Great Britain's mainland put the Old Forge up for sale, but now thanks to some regulars, it will live to pour another pint.

The Old Forge Pub is a community hub amid the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands

The patrons and saviours of the Old Forge, considered the most remote pub on mainland Britain, gather behind the bar. (Submitted by Mark Harris)

Story Transcript

It's been more than a year since the owner of the most remote pub on Britain's mainland put the Old Forge up for sale. But now, thanks to some regulars, it will go on to see its patrons enjoy many more pints.

After it was put up for sale last year, the pub's patrons created the Old Forge Community Benefit Society to crowdfund the cost and enlist shareholders, who bought the pub on Monday.

"Everyone was really excited. A little bit overwhelmed," Stephanie Harris, secretary of the society, told As It Happens guest host Gillian Findlay.

"But yeah, I think everyone's just really looking forward to what the pub can bring to the community in the future."

The Old Forge Pub is a hub for people in Inverie, a village on the Knoydart Peninsula, which is an area of mostly wilderness on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. 

The exterior of the Old Forge Pub, a place where locals have long celebrated their birthdays, weddings and introduced the community to their newborns. (Submitted by Mark Harris)

"When you live in such a small community like we do, the pub plays such a bigger role than just a place to kind of go and eat and drink. It's a place where everyone can get together," Harris said.

"When I was growing up, it was where you celebrated your birthdays and weddings. When a new baby came home to the community, that was the first place they went to kind of meet everyone."

About 110 people live in Inverie and there is no road network to get in and out of the village. Still, many tourists visit throughout the year by boat — or a three-day walk — to enjoy the outdoors.

Patrons pose outside the pub, which they saved through crowdfunding. (Submitted by Mark Harris)

Harris says the majority of the Knoydart Peninsula has been community-owned since 1999, with representatives from the community managing assets on behalf of everyone else.

When the pub's former owner Jean-Pierre Robinet put the Old Forge on the market last year for £425,000 (almost $700,000 Cdn), the villagers let him know their intentions and got to work.

Some shareholders from Inverie brought the bulk of the cost, £250,000 (about $410,000 Cdn), to the table. The Old Forge Community Benefit Society then gave the rest of the village a chance to support the pub they love and crowdfunded the remaining amount.

"We raised £60,000 through that and we had an initial target of £40,000," Harris said. "We raised that in the first eight hours that it was open, so that was pretty crazy."

They all also agreed that any profits from the pub will not go back to the initial shareholders. Instead, the money will be reinvested back into the business and projects that support the wider community.

"We're got big plans over the next year or so," Harris said. 


Written by Mehek Mazhar. Interview with Stephanie Harris produced by Sarah Jackson.

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