The Bell Inn, Bath. Photography by Jon Tonks

About us

The Bell Inn is a historic free house in Walcot Street, just on the edge of Bath’s city centre but right in the middle of Bath’s real ale and live music scene.

It is the first co-operatively-owned pub in Bath and at the time of its purchase by 536 of its customers, fans and workers on 2nd July 2013 it was the largest pub buyout project in Britain.

We're proud of our dedication to live music, real ale & cider, quality artisan produce, the ecology, fair trade, analogue sounds (including vinyl) and Bath's wonderful artistic community. Walcot still waives the rules!

Unlike most community pub buyouts The Bell wasn’t a failing business that needed rescuing.  It was a flourishing and profitable enterprise that we took on when its popular and respected owner decided to head for new pastures.

We wanted to make sure that it continued to operate in accordance with the values listed above, to which the Founding Board – the team that did all the hard work of the buyout back in 2013 – added the personal, political and economic principles of co-operation.  We are a co-operative; each shareholding member has only one vote irrespective of the number of shares held.

Meet the Board

Sveta Antonova, Board Member

Sveta Antonova 

Works at Komedia, is against the concept of full-time working weeks, hence spends her time volunteering, gardening, making, looking at art, swimming, cat sitting at pubs and jumping from event to event.
Simon Emery, Board Member

Simon Emery

Simon has been on the board since the takeover and has professional experience in all aspects of building/maintenance and broad experience in running small businesses .
Mike Harrison, Board Member

Mike Harrison

Mike has had a career in teaching and still works part time as an elected official of the National Education Union. He loves sport, beer and music
Steve Henwood, Board Member

Steve Henwood

Founder Member, on the Board since, has an opinion on most things.
Live Music coordinator for The Bell, also Hat &Feather, Playgroup, (Longacre, Village Hall), Walcot Nation Day .Fringe & other Festivals.
Annie Knight, Board Member

Amie Knight

A Bell regular with a background mainly in advice/information provision and customer service, Amie’s interests include things dramatic, gardening and sport- especially cricket.

Wendy Matthews, Board Memeber

Wendy Matthews

I discovered the Hat and Feather as student in the 70s and haven’t been able to leave Walcot Street since.   I’ve had a close connection with The Bell as Co-Artistic director of Bath Fringe Festival.
Barry Raynes, Board Member

Barry Raynes

Barry is an enthusiastic lover of pubs, ale and live music evidenced by the fact he owns a brewery, runs two pubs and plays in a band.

John Revell, Board Member

John Revell

Twenty five years an RAF engineer officer, then twenty years a project manager, and now The Bell's company secretary since 2014.  It's been an interesting life; it still is!
Jon Wolfe, Board Member

Jon Wolfe

Jon is an IT consultant, has been involved in the music industry for many years and works with Shindig Festival. He is a long time Bell local and enthusiast.

The Board

You have just met the current Board.

We are managed by an elected nine-person Board of Directors, all of whom are unpaid volunteers bringing their experience and expertise to the service of The Bell just for the love of it.  The Founding Board was replaced by an elected Board at the first Annual General Meeting in 2014, and there have been elections for one third of the places on the Board at every subsequent AGM.  Some of the founder members have stood successfully for election, so the Board now contains a healthy mix of founders and newcomers. 

If you have specific questions, for example on the operation of our co-operative, looking for advice on a community project or general enquiries then head over to our contact page to be directed to the right person.


There's more...

When we bought the pub we did so under the provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies (IPS) Act 1965 and we identified The Bell Inn (Bath) Ltd as an IPS Co-operative.  When the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 came into law all societies registered before the new act had to re-brand themselves as Registered Societies, so that is what we now call ourselves.  However our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), requires us to tell them whether we are a registered society operating as a co-operative or a registered society operating as a community benefit society.  We have told the FCA that The Bell remains what is has been since 2013 – a co-operative.  Ain’t regulatory progress wonderful!

The membership of our co-operative - our shareholders - includes customers, both regular and occasional, some pub staff, a few people who just liked the idea of owning a pub and a number of people who have retained an affection for the place though they now live far away.

However, most of our members are local; around 40% actually live within one mile of The Bell and around 70% live in the BA1 and BA2 postal areas.  Our membership therefore has strong links in the local community and a real concern that The Bell should operate as an asset to that community.

The day-to-day running of the pub is in the capable hands of professional and properly paid management and staff.  No-one working at The Bell receives less than the real living wage as defined by the Living Wage Foundation and we show our visiting musicians and other artists that they are valued by maintaining our accreditation on the MU’s Fair Play Venue database.  We are also fortunate that many members of The Bell’s community contribute to the cultural life here for the love of it all, or for costs only.

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