The White House has been at the heart of the Bladon community since the 17th Century and is the last remaining pub and community facility in the village. It is also the pub where Winston Churchill “learnt to drink” during his time at Blenheim Palace. With a growing population of just under 1,000 residents and thousands of visiting tourists, Bladon needs this important and historic pub. The White House has enormous potential to be a social hub for the village offering a whole host of services.
The pub was put on the open market in September 2019. Following the successful application to denote the White House as an Asset of Community Value, the community had six months to put in a bid to buy and manage the future of the pub. In the UK, more than 100 pubs have been taken over by the community and every one of them continues to thrive.
We worked with a number of successful community pub groups, including the Abingdon Arms in Beckley, to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities ahead. We also joined the Plunkett Foundation who helped us to develop a business plan and share offer.
Several community consultations and events in 2019 and 2020 showed strong support for the bid. There were fantastic ideas about how we could put the pub back at the heart of the community and we conducted an online and paper survey to find out what people wanted from Bladon Community Pub.
In March 2020, we had our application for the Plunkett Foundation’s More Than A Pub grant/loan approved. And following months of campaigning, at share offer close we had 450 shareholders and had raised enough money to make a strong bid to purchase the White House. Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, May 2020 brought us the good news we had been waiting for, our offer to purchase the White House had been successful. Finally, on 23rd July 2020 we received the keys on behalf the the shareholders as official owners of the White House pub!
During August numerous professionals and volunteers attended site, carrying out essential repairs, renovations and general improvements to the building and gardens. Following the removal of several overgrown and unsafe trees the garden received a good tidy up. While the tenants accommodation and the pub itself were fully cleaned, repainted and updated ready for opening.
In September, Johnny Roberts was appointed as the tenant landlord, bringing a wealth of pub and hospitality experience to the White House. Johnny and his family moved into the pub at the end of September, ready for the grand re-opening in October of 2020!
Beyond reopening there is still much to do at the White House as we bring our long-term vision to life, putting the pub back at the heart of the community. Do come and visit, and please stay in touch via the web site. More to come as the journey continues….