So what's it all about?

Why are we doing this?

Where it all began . . .

So back in June 2011, the much loved but seriously declining Holywell Inn was purchased by the current owner. The pub had been a Whitbread tenancy for many years but in 1988 the government decided that following a report compiled by the MMC, breweries would no longer be able to own more than 2000 pubs. This caused considerable disruption in the licensed industry, companies such as Bass and Whitbread having many thousands of outlets. The quickest solution for such organisations was to lease out their surplus pubs, which eventually led to the disposal of thousands of affected pubs falling into the hands of Pub Companies (Pubcos).

So Whitbread like many others eventually sold their tenanted estate to Enterprise Inns, who in turn sold many outlets to Admiral Taverns. In 2011 Admiral disposed of a huge number of properties to free trade and the Holywell Inn was one of them.

The new owner of the Holywell, despite claims he purchased the property to improve its fortunes as a pub, quickly set about applying for planning permission to convert the adjoining garage into a house. The closure of the Holywell soon followed, the last trading night being December 31st 2011 and the relentless planning applications followed.

Such applications should they be successful, would mean the loss of the last pub in Holywell Green, the only social interaction centre in the village converted into six small apartments/bedsits, and to us that was unacceptable. Action was required!

The Community Benefit Society

All in all there's been seven such applications, all either withdrawn or refused. In 2013 we - the newly formed Holywell Community Pub Ltd - successfully applied for the property to become the first ever Asset of Community Value -in Calderdale.

A number of concerned residents began meeting to discuss what could be done to secure the future of this important community facility. It was obviously accepted that the business had failed under its last operating methods, but many remembered this pub as the vibrant, lively social hub of the village. It had in fact traded continuously since at least 1822 when licensing records began. So  a couple of world wars, years of recession and many other determining factors never managed to see it close, but it was obvious looking at the aforementioned licensing records that since the sale to Admiral Taverns in 2006 and the subsequent management changes that followed, then the closure was inevitable. The Holywell was tired, it needed some love and attention. The most stunning feature of the property - the sixty feet deep well - had been filled in. The toilets were in disrepair, the heating system in serious need of attention. The last ever tenant tried so hard but had little support from the owners/leasing company. It was hard to reason that this was anything other than a managed decline.

In January 2013 the fledgling Holywell Action Group decided it was important to gauge village support for saving the pub. So a meeting was arranged in the church hall on Friday January 4th and remarkably 92 residents attended. But we got a shock! There was a clear indication that the the pub should be saved but something  even more important became obvious that evening. Many residents made it abundantly clear that whilst the village now lacked a pub, for some time it had lacked far more than that. We were questioned on our priorities for elderly people, teenagers, young children, single parents and numerous other socially restricted groups. And in a flash we had come up with the projected business model of a community owned and managed pub distributing surplus profits to services and facilities not available in the village.

A star was born, a project that would become nationally recognised throughout the UK. And the work began.

To attempt a  timeline of the work we've done would easily fill at least another sixty or seventy pages here. So we'll try and condense it!

  • Since we began we've hosted over 50 community events in the Holywell Green area. These have included bake-offs, garden shows, music festivals, Halloween walks, quiz nights, antiques days and Christmas events.
  • Hosted a major music event at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax which brought visitors to Calderdale from as far as Iceland, California and Holland
  • Produced and distributed 48 continuous monthly newsletters
  • Been invited to numerous events and seminars throughout the UK. Our eventual Chair has spoken about the Holywell campaign four times in Westminster
  • Hosted a Plunkett Foundation workshop on the process of Compulsory Purchase
  • Designed and implemented a unique subscription share issue scheme
  • Advised details on the pub saving movie 'Walk like a Panther'
  • Been awarded numerous grants and awards for our community work particularly in outreach music events
  • Travelled extensively throughout the UK at personal expense to advise and help numerous other 'pub saving' groups
  • Held meetings every two weeks up until Covid and monthly afterwards
  • And twelve years on we're still doing it!

 And we want your help!

We know people are passionate about this pub, and naturally twelve years in you may consider that we're well established in what we do. That's true, but we always welcome new mwmbers. There's no commitment to do anything other than simply support the campaign, but of course any assistance in the day to day running of it all is most welcome.

So come along and say hello. 

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