#SaveTheRavensbourneArms: Crowdfunder to turn pub into community music venue hits £50k

·2-min read
Sophie Farrell, Lenny Watson and Verity Hobbs of Sister Midnight, the group behind the campaign  (Handout)
Sophie Farrell, Lenny Watson and Verity Hobbs of Sister Midnight, the group behind the campaign (Handout)

A crowdfunding campaign to turn a Lewisham pub into a community-run music venue has surpassed £50,000 — but it still needs plenty more to hit its goal.

The Ravensbourne Arms, a long-standing boozer in south-east London, closed in 2016 and was snapped up by property developers, who converted the upper two floors of the building into flats. However, Lewisham Council declined planning permission for a change of use, opening the door for the pub to be brought into community ownership.

Similar things have happened before. Back in 2013, in nearby Nunhead, The Ivy House pub was saved from demolition after a group of volunteers raised £1m to buy the freehold and transform it into London’s first cooperatively owned pub, which now hosts live music alongside comedy, theatre and more.

That success story is part of the motivation fuelling the bid to resurrect the Ravensbourne Arms, spearheaded by Sister Midnight. A not-for-profit, women-led organisation, it was established in 2018 as a music venue, record shop and cafe in Deptford, but was forced to relinquish its space during the Covid lockdowns.

The group has now turned its attention to Lewisham, and is aiming to raise £500k in share capital to purchase, refurbish and re-open the venue, with further funds sourced through grants and commercial loans.

Community shares ranging in value from £100 up to £100,000 (or 10 per cent of the total raised, whichever is lower) are currently available on the group’s Crowdfunder page. Anyone who invests will be in line to become a co-owner of the pub, as well as a member of the Sister Midnight society, with a say in how things are run.

A number of high-profile musicians and bands have already pledged their support — including Fontaines D.C., Goat Girl and Porridge Radio — with Jools Holland, who was born in neighbouring Blackheath, also buying shares. “The music scene of south-east London means a great deal to me,” Holland said. “It’s where I came from — it’s where I come out of. And that’s why I want to support the Ravensbourne Arms. I invested and you can too. What harm can it do?”

The crowdfunding campaign is set to run until December 20. Head to the fundraising page for more information on how you can get involved.

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