Appeal launched to keep dream of community-owned pub alive

The Ravensbourne Arms is a detached public house built in 1934. Pic: Sister Midnight

An urgent plea for help raising funds to open Lewisham’s first community-owned live music pub has been launched by a local community group, Sister Midnight.

The group has been campaigning to raise £500,000 to purchase the Ravensbourne Arms on Lewisham High Street, however, the pub’s current owners recently accepted a £700,000 offer for its leasehold from a competing buyer, putting the project at risk.

Sister Midnight told EastLondonLines: “Exactly a year after we announced our plans to save the Ravensbourne Arms…we were delivered the devastating blow that the owner had accepted an offer on the pub.”

“With only a couple of weeks until the sale is complete, we’re racing against time to raise the money that we need to make a higher offer. This week alone we’ve raised an additional £25,000.”

The campaign for a community-owned live music pub in Lewisham has received widespread support from significant local figures, including Lewisham MP Vicky Foxcroft and prominent musicians Fontaines D.C. and Jools Holland.

£229,205 has been raised so far through a mix of fundraising methods, including a number of live music events and a ‘community share offer’.

If the proposal raises enough money and is eventually successful, ownership of the pub would be split among a number of shareholders spread around Lewisham, from locals to community groups like Sister Midnight.

Buying a share, whatever the size, entitles the owner to one voting right. The deadline for funding has been extended due to a “last minute surge of investment” and is now April 30.

The scheme, which launched in September 2021, offers local people “the chance to invest in the proposal to bring the Ravensbourne…into Community Ownership”.

Sister Midnight highlighted the need for “a space that is owned and democratically run” by the community; that is sustainable in the long term and “reflects their values and can respond to their needs”.

“Lewisham wants and needs a community-owned music venue. We have so much culture and creativity in our borough, but it needs space to thrive and grow,” Sister Midnight said.

“That’s what we’re fighting to create for our community, and we won’t stop until we succeed. We’ll make Lewisham’s first community-owned music venue a reality.”

Shares are priced at a minimum of £100, but donations of £25 and £50 are also accepted. You can donate here.

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