These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Uxbridge Saturday 21st December 2013. We lost 2-1 in front of 275 people.

Anyone who see's me on a Saturday, will know that its the day I like to help our struggling pubs. Especially on away days, Nigel the Windsor Rebel always manages to find a little watering hole where the Dads Army can meet and chew over the Slough Town fat. Which is why every time I see a boarded up pub or one converted into another poxy supermarket my heart sinks. Where are people meant to meet, to celebrate, to gossip about the days events, if there are no community spaces left?

Despite living in swinging Brighton, on my estate and the one next too it, both our local pubs have been shut for a few years. That's 18,000 people without their local boozer. So when the Old Bevendean Hotel came up for sale and looked like it might become more poxy student flats, a few of us came up with a cunning plan to re-open it as the first co-op pub on a housing estate in the country. That was in December 2010 and since then I’ve lost count of the amount of hours we've spent in meetings, wading through documents and hanging out with the local Vicar. Just how much time can you spend talking about a bloody pub?

Now co-op pubs are happening up and down the country (23 so far) along with co-op shops (over 300), libraries, swimming pools, phone and energy cooperatives. People getting off their backsides and deciding they can run things better themselves. We raised £70,000 ourselves, over half from selling community shares. Infact we have the most co-op members of any pub in the country but unfortunately not the richest and that has been the problem so far – with nearly all the co-op pubs and shops happening in posh areas.

Then we got the phone call about a month ago. We have been successful in getting a £130,000 grant from the Social Investment Business.

It will not only be somewhere for the people of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean and Brighton to meet but an example to other working class estates of what can be done. From the Brownies to art groups, Albion in the community to health services, credit union to repair workshops, the range of groups saying they will use the Bevy shows that it will be so much more than just a pub

It feels fantastic that we are not only playing our part in reversing pub closures but also coming up with a model of how pubs need to change if they are to survive.

Father John Wall, the vicar of Moulsecoomb said "This grant is an amazing vote of confidence in our vision for our Community! I have always said every decent neighbourhood deserves a good Church and a good Pub: now in Moulsecoomb we'll have both: "the Bevy" will be a Community Hub for all ages to meet, relax and join together, and now it'll happen within the next few months. I can't wait for the first pint to be pulled!"
We've still got a lot of work to do, and need money for our community kitchen and garden which is why we are re-issuing shares. But in the meantime you can also help with struggling pubs around Slough. Residents are trying to turn The Bull Inn in Iver Heath into a co-op pub and the Golden Harp, Furze Platt Road, Maidenhead is trying to stop Tesco's turning it into a convenience store.

People need somewhere to gather otherwise our communities become fragmented and people become isolated.

But for just a moment forget the depressing news that 18 boozers are closing a week – this is one that is going to re-open. We only went and bloody did it! (now can Slough get their new ground and promotion please, for the icing on the cake).


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