Crowd funding is a current phenomena springing up in the last few years.
Taking it one step further is crowd owning – well community owning in reality.
Two recent examples have come my way lately.
I had the pleasure of attending the 1st Anniversary of The Antwerp Arms in Tottenham, London as a community owned and run pub.
The Antwerp Arms was a purpose built pub back in 1822 overlooking the picturesque Bruce Castle Park and nearby Tottenham Cemetery. Fast forward to 2013 when plans were afoot to redevelop the pub into housing units. A group of community activists launched a campaign to save the pub through Asset Of Community Value (ACV) legislation – as well as community funding and subsequently owning. That campaign led to several initiatives which eventually found me – and a bunch of old North London acquaintances – celebrating the anniversary of the first community owned pub in North London on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon.
We were all entertained by a jazz band out front – an enthusiastic acoustic guitar player out back who did a sterling rendition of many old favourites including both Motorhed and AC/DC which got my toes tapping – but this blogs musical interlude comes via London’s cheeky chappie cockney duo Chas & Dave.
My drink of choice on the day happened to be a locally produced ale from Redemption Craft Brewery – one of 2 breweries that have sprung up in N17 after my departure from London over a decade ago – the other being Beavertown Brewery.
Hotspur Amber Ale – well want else could you drink with the Spurs ground only being 5 minutes walk away? – was a wholesome golden ale in the English style. This means it was a contrast to the Irish red ales I’ve got used to which tend to be fizzy and bright. Hotspur is flat and heavy – which took me a little time to get reacquainted with.
I followed it with their Rock The Kazbeck – after the hops used – which despite looking like a lager – was actually a blonde ale with a pleasant zesty taste which I preferred given the sunny day in it. The deceiving look reminded me of drinking what I took to be a porter – but was in fact a black lager from Germany with that lovely burnt taste from the Munich hops used.
Beavertown brews were available in funkily designed cans but after a hearty BBQ I didn’t have the time to try them due to a flight to catch later that night.
The other crowd funding example is GlenWyvis Whisky Distillery.
Now in a former life I sailed the 7 seas in the merchant fleet and happened to spend some months aboard bulk carrier Ben Wyvis – named after a Scottish mountain that I aim to climb as part of my bucket list. So when I heard about the whisky connection I was immediately interested.
However – what differentiates this distillery from the others is that it aims to be the 1st community owned distillery in Scotland!
Check out the promotional video here.
Whisky distilleries are hot property right now. They are bought and sold as trading chips in highly priced – highly publicised multinational deals to increase profits – expand the portfolio – protect the brand of dynastic drinks companies. So setting one up to be community owned and run is a brave move.
Whether it will be successful or not only time will tell – but I wish the venture well.
What roll I can play running the distillery when I’m over 500 miles away I don’t know – but if you’ve ever wanted to ‘own’ a distillery – no matter how small your contribution – nows the chance!
With pubs closing all round Ireland – as well as new distilleries popping up all over the place – both these novel innitaitives offer a refreshing alternative.
Here’s hoping that both go on to have a long and successful future.