Great Bromley pub and social hub adds community library to its eclectic portfolio

L-R: Volunteer Librarians Christine Taylor, Kate Strowbridge, Yvonne Cobbold and Gill Thomas; Cheryl

L-R: Volunteer Librarians Christine Taylor, Kate Strowbridge, Yvonne Cobbold and Gill Thomas; Cheryl Arthur, Head of Services for Essex Libraries; Essex County Councillor Sue Barker; and Mark Norman, Face to Face Manager for Essex Libraries. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE - Credit: Archant

A popular Essex pub and part-time social hub which was saved by the local community has opened a brand new library service.

Neil Turnbull, Coffee Shop Manager, at the opening of the library. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE

Neil Turnbull, Coffee Shop Manager, at the opening of the library. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE - Credit: Archant

Just short of 30 people attended the grand opening at The Great Bromley Cross Community Pub on Wednesday, April 18 – including Susan Barker, cabinet member for culture, communities and customer at Essex County Council.

Run entirely by volunteers, the hub has accumulated a number of different functions over the years, including a coffee shop, post office and occasional pop-up boutique.

Ms Barker said: “It is a brilliant place. I am really impressed with the people who have got it up and running. It is a really good enterprise for the community.

“People do value it. There is a lot of work going on at the county council about isolation – and this is an exercise to get out and meet people. Essex is happy to be a part of that.

Every other Wednesday The Great Bromley Cross Community Pub hosts Mimi's Pop-Up Boutique. Picture: P

Every other Wednesday The Great Bromley Cross Community Pub hosts Mimi's Pop-Up Boutique. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE - Credit: Archant


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“I think it is very good for people’s social wellbeing.”

She added that the pub had a real communal charm, as all its furniture had been donated by local people.

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A group of pub regulars and residents stepped in to save Great Bromley’s The Cross Inn after developers announced plans to convert it into housing in early 2016.

For months they fought against the proposals – but finally the group, called Save the Bromley Cross, announced plans to sell shares so they could re-open it as a community asset.

Yvonne Cobbold (right), a volunteer librarian at the Great Bromley Cross Community Pub talking to Ma

Yvonne Cobbold (right), a volunteer librarian at the Great Bromley Cross Community Pub talking to Mark Norman, Face to Face Manager for Essex Libraries. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE - Credit: Archant

This allowed over 150 people to buy The Cross Inn under the ownership of The Great Bromley Cross Pub Community Benefit Society Ltd.

The pub hosts a range of community events every month, ranging from candlelit carols at Christmas to Halloween craft sessions and pop-up boutiques.

Jim Craddock, one of the volunteers and shareholders, said he was delighted with the new service. He added that the pub is now hiring a new manager.

Mr Craddock said: “The Great Bromley Cross re-opened under community ownership in December 2016, after local residents bought the closed pub from a property developer. The pub has been run by volunteers since then, but is now recruiting a pub manager.”

Library opening sign. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE

Library opening sign. Picture: PAUL CUDMORE - Credit: Archant

Details on how to apply are available on the website: www.greatbromleycross.org.uk/how-you-can-help.

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