Bladon locals are celebrating after hearing that their bid to turn The White House into a community pub was successful.
“It’s such great news isn’t it,” head fundraiser Mike Edwards says. “No one wanted to see the pub, where Winston Churchill learnt to drink, knocked down by developers, especially the locals, so we are absolutely delighted,” Mike said.
The Bladon Community Pub group was formed last year to raise enough money to buy and take on The White House as a community pub when the lease became available in April.
Landlords Greene King announced this week that BCP offered the winning bid, after its first offer was turned down.
Locals had been waiting with bated breath to find out whether their sealed bid for the 17th century pub was successful.
“the pub and car park are the only communal spaces we have, so it was really important to hold onto that because The White House is the heart of Bladon”
Their fundraising campaign was also a massive hit, spreading globally from America to Australia and South Africa, with shares in the pub being bought all over the world.
“We’ve been on Channel 9 News in Australia and on Sky TV. The response has ben really overwhelming,” Mike adds, who doesn’t want to disclose the submitted bid, although the initial fundraising target was £495,000.
Although negotiations on the final details need completing, locals are already planning the new look White House, wanting to make it a more community focused offering for locals and tourists alike.
“We’ve got plans to extend the beer garden and make it accessible from the bar, and to create a more fluid space between the eating and drinking areas,” Mike explains.
And food? “Absolutely. We aim to make it a real foodie pub and put it back on the map – not gastro but just really good pub food in a nice, welcoming, fresh environment, somewhere groups can come and locals can gather,” Mike adds. “We want to make it really user friendly.
“And yes we will advertise the fact that it’s the pub where Churchill learnt to drink because that’s a part of history, but we won’t turn it into a Disney version of a pub,” he promises.
Local resident Calum Greer, who is now a proud shareholder said: “This is best news I’ve heard in 2020 so far, and by God do we need some good news! This is all down to the sheer tenacity and hard work of Bladon Community Pub group.
“I’m convinced now more than ever that when life returns to a semblance of normality Bladon will have the finest community pub/hub in the land offering a warm welcome to all from near and far.”
There are now 430 shareholders, the minimum bid being five shares for £250, although locals were allowed to buy just one for £50 if that was all they could afford.
Fundraising is ongoing however, as money needs to be raised for the refurb plans and to improve the toilets and add disabled facilities, so you can still get involved and join the current shareholders to own a part of the Bladon pub. Go to https://bladoncommunitypub.org
Once decorated, the BCP will then look for a suitable tenant to run The White House, which is currently vacant and boarded up.
So why was it so important for the community to hold onto The White House? “There are no shops or community centres here,” Mike explains. “They have all gone. The pub and car park are the only communal spaces we have, so it was really important to hold onto that because The White House is the heart of Bladon.
Locals say it is the best news they’ve heard since lockdown began and has given them all something to look forward to.
“We are absolutely delighted that Bladon’s only pub and community space will stay as a pub and not be turned into houses by developers, which is what we feared the most,” Mike says.
Ox In A Box has contacted Greene King for a response and await their reply.