In the years since we bought ourselves a pub, the background has changed a little, but it’s easier and there are more of us. The Bell CoOperative are happy to answer questions on specific things we did or that you may be thinking of, we’re keen to help other pubs down the road, but really we’d be better off pointing you at the people who helped us and have helped plenty others since.

Actually a great deal of help came from our local CoOperative Development Agency (Avon CDA) but that’s an organisation that has changed shape and the specific help has moved elsewhere. But The CoOp Movement is stronger than ever, and it’s great to know there are so many CoOp Businesses and varieties of structure out there. Customer Ownership is only one of the areas, of course. But it is a growing one, and there are some serious landmark businesses out there. These are also the people who understand the true transformational power of thinking CoOperative in business, politics and society. Go here for the big picture and here for the specifics.

Community Shares Unit

community shares logo Full

Another organisation that helped us a lot was The Community Shares Unit. We found that Community Shares were the ideal financial structure for our business, and doing it that way kept us safely away from all kinds of financial minefields, not to mention expensive ways of doing things. For a general picture of how they work, start here.

Power to Change

power to change logo1

Power to Change was set up on an endowment from Lottery funding and supports community business in many ways, including through some of the above groups. Their site might set you off on some interesting ideas that go beyond just pulling pints and crowds.

Pub is the Hub

pubis the hub logo1

Pub is the Hub is an information hub (both online and with real people) supported by big breweries and the like, maybe most aimed at rural pubs but their information is good and includes all options.,uk

The Plunkett Foundation


But nowadays there are other organisations out there to help you too. We didn’t use them (and many of the things we did and would do again are not the way they would necessarily recommend), but the Plunkett Foundation have made a compendious one-stop shop for advice on making your pub community owned. We intend to join their Community Pubs Association when it opens up.


camra logo

Another organisation genuinely interested in pubs is Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale. They effectively saved the British pub in the 1970s and onwards, and if you find that your local group is interested in pub buyouts they will be keen to help, they’re on hand, and they may know more about the local conditions. They are also good on Asset of Community Value (ACV) status - which is something whose ease of operation varies around the country. Find your local group here and see if they respond … or even ask our friends in the one in Bath!

In Summary

If you’re interested in the general idea of Community Shares, a few of the many other projects using them are advertised here.

Bath is a bit of a hotbed of community ownership, including its Football (soccer) Club and a lovely former cinema venue; Komedia Bath, in the city centre. The Bell buyout pre-dated both of those share offers, but we did ourselves find inspiration in Bath & West Community Energy, one of a number of groups nationally who are collectively.



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