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Farmer's Arms

Ulverston, Cumbria, England

Grizedale Arts

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

Grade II

Located in the Lake District National Park, the Grade II-listed Farmer's Arms public house was due to be lost to residential development. However, in 2020 the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) assisted Grizedale Arts in quickly acquiring the building and it is now set to be brought back to life as a mixed-use pub and B&B, with workshop and community arts space.

Grizedale Arts is a charitable arts organisation that 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. They plan to expand and develop this work from The Farmer’s Arms, cited to be the oldest inn in Cumbria.

The AHF played a key part in Grizedale Arts’ expansion and development by providing a grant of £8,100 towards a Project Viability Study and a tailored loan investment package totalling £400,000. Grizedale Arts originally came to the AHF for a grant to support a viability appraisal, a condition of the seller, but on talking to our support officers they realised that the AHF could also provide a fast-tracked loan package that would enable them to make a competitive offer on the pub. The Project Viability Grant allowed Grizedale Arts to make an informed decision about the pub’s condition, value and sustainability and assured them that the proposed use was viable. Further, AHF finance provided 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.

Grizedale Arts’ acquisition is set to reinvent the way the UK's long term redundant rural inns and pubs are brought back to life. 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.

Grizedale are looking to extend the much celebrated work they already do by using the Farmer’s Arms as an arts venue for courses, 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.

Image Credits

Karen Guthrie

AHF Funding

Project Viability Grant - £8,100 (2020)

Loan - £400,000 (2020)

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