Wickham Market aims to restore historic George pub - and you could own a part of it
- Credit: The George Community Pub
In 2013, a devastating fire almost destroyed the 500-year-old George Inn, the last remaining pub in Wickham Market. A team of passionate volunteers got together to save this important building and, after six years of hard work, and with massive support from the residents and beyond, they bought the pub and embarked on a £1.6 million project with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to transform it into a pub, restaurant and vibrant community hub - and you could own a part of it.
Restoring and preserving a heritage building like this is expensive and will require more than Lottery funding, it can only be achieved by shared ownership. You could join the hundreds of shareholders now by making a pledge to buy shares.
A pledge is a promise not a financial investment at this stage. A second share issue will take place in the spring of 2022 after all necessary funding has been secured. As an added incentive, taxpayers can claim back income tax of 30% on the value of their investment.
Everyone will be welcome
The aim of The George committee is to make the village a better place to live, work and visit. The George will create 12 new jobs and bring an estimated £80,000 a year into the local economy. The building will incorporate a pub on the ground floor and a first floor with fully accessible space, where workshops, classes, lectures and social activities will be offered.
The committee is also working with various organisations to ensure those living with dementia or loneliness have a safe place in which to meet and socialise in a post-Covid world.
The historic importance
Ironically, the fire revealed ancient timbers, evidence of construction techniques and an unknown history dating back half a century to the reign of King Henry VIII. It was as if the building, having witnessed 500 years of time passing through its doors, was calling out to be saved.
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The next key steps
The first share offer, the Lottery Fund and other grants amounted to nearly £250,000.
Additionally, the committee has recently raised £180,000 in pledges, but it needs more to meet and get beyond the target of £200,000.
April 2021 - the committee is delighted to submit its planning application. Go to East Suffolk Council planning and search for The George Pub and send your message of support
May 2021 - the committee will be applying for almost £1 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Early 2022 - a second share issue will be launched
March 2022 - All being well, restoration work commences
October 2023 - the pub opens!
The committee would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund and lottery players everywhere for helping to make projects like The George happen.
Support for The George and local pubs
Councillor Alexander Nicoll said: “Many small villages across Suffolk have a pub as a key community and social hub. Locals and visitors can enjoy what such places offer. Wickham Market is a large, thriving, village with a big community heart as shown by the many amenities, sports and other initiatives taken forward by so many, including support for elderly residents. Wickham Market, however, does not have a pub to be part of the heart of the local community. The George project has the vision to not only bring a decent local pub into being but put community engagement at the core of what the new pub in its restored building can deliver.”
A spokesperson from East Suffolk Council said: “The community endeavour to rescue and restore this important historic building in the middle of the village is outstanding. The perseverance of all those involved deserves to be recognised and we look forward to seeing The George back in use as a cherished local asset.”
A spokesperson from Wellbeing Suffolk - Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are all very aware of the impact Covid has, and will have, on our communities. Having the George will allow us the opportunity to work with communities to rebuild, strengthen and heal.”
Damon Albarn, from rock band Blur, summed up the importance of local pubs well when backing the campaign to save The Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone in 2014. He said: “The more we get rid of traditional pubs the more we forget who we were. The more we forget who we were, the less we know who we are.”
Make your pledge to help save The George