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Grizedale Arts takes groundbreaking steps to restore Cumbria's historic Farmer’s Arms Inn

25 January 2021
England

Restoration of historic inn breaks new ground and offers hope to the UK's vacant inns and public houses 

Grizedale Arts’ acquisition of The Farmer's Arms, a vacant Grade II listed historic inn, on the edge of the Lake District National Park, is set to reinvent the way the UK's long term redundant rural inns and pubs are brought back to life.

Grizedale Arts is a charitable arts organisation who works to improve the wellbeing and resilience of the Crake Valley community by engaging people in creativity led projects that provide skills training, employment opportunities and income.  Over the last decade, they have done this from their headquarters at Lawson Park and the Coniston Institute in the Lake District - as well as internationally through grassroots work in places where people share new and innovative ways to live and work, predominantly in rural places. They plan to expand and develop this work from the soon to be acquired The Farmer’s Arms, cited to be the oldest inn in Cumbria.

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is delighted to be part of their expansion and development by providing a grant of £8,100 towards a Project Viability Study and a tailored loan investment package totalling £400,000. This will provide monies for the purchase of the historic Grade II listed building and associated working capital and fitting-out costs needed to convert the inn into a multi-purpose hub for use by the local community and visitors.

The restoration of The Farmer's Arms is a significant milestone in Grizedale Arts work, reinventing the role of the rural historic pub and potentially offering a blueprint for many other pubs threatened with closure due to the recession and Covid-19.

The Farmer's Arms will be restored into a pub and b&b but it will also have workshop and meeting space, pop-up shops, a museum, community arts centre, and courses and training for local people, including working with textiles, furniture, pottery, and food and drink. Outdoor spaces will be redeveloped to host varied community activities and to grow some produce for use in the inn.

Project Manager, Emma Sumner added: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save an historic building and retain it as a community hub. The Crake Valley has many innovative rural businesses, alongside celebrated visitor attractions such as Brantwood and the Ruskin Museum, and The Farmer’s Arms could help in the area’s recovery period. Employment will be a key issue and we believe The Farmer’s Arms will act as a gateway to not only the wonders of the valley, but also the world of work and enterprise, innovation and diversification.”

Commenting on the investment, Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the AHF said: “This is a good news story for difficult times and definitely one to give people in the Lake District and across the North of England something to look forward to in the post COVID-19 era. Grizedale Arts has put together some fantastic creative and asset based projects over the years and their reinvention of this historic pub will undoubtedly be another imaginative creation. AHF is very pleased to be able to support them with this loan.”

For more information please visit: https://lakedistrictfarmersarms.com/

Photo Credits

Grizedale Arts, K.Guthrie

Editor’s notes

1)    The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the only specialist heritage social investor in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.

2)    Photos credited to Karen Guthrie, photographer.

3)    For media enquiries please contact Oliver Brodrick-Ward, on 020 79250199 / oliver.brodrick-ward@ahfund.org.uk