Thrings advises on the largest community cooperative buyout of a pub within the UK


The Bell Inn on Bath’s Walcot Street is a renowned pub and live music venue – having launched the careers of numerous musicians.

When its former owners decided to sell, the venue fell under threat of permanent closure. However, 538 customers, staff and members of the local community formed a cooperative to raise funds to purchase the property, together with the business. Among them were musicians Peter Gabriel, Midge Ure and Robert Plant, and Glastonbury festival organiser Michael Eavis.

To maximise their chances of success, the cooperative’s management team sought the most experienced professionals in their fields – instructing Thrings to deliver legal advice.

Our involvement

This case was unique and unusual for many reasons. For example, the vehicle set up to acquire the property and associated business was an Industrial and Provident Society, with a structure designed to facilitate issuing shares easily. As this was an uncommon situation, it was vital the Bell Cooperative received accurate and expert advice to achieve the best results.

Ben steered the cooperative through the complex transaction process, negotiating heads of terms on behalf of the purchaser and successfully protecting the interests of all investors.

The outcome

The fundraising and subsequent acquisition of The Bell Inn saved this Bath institution and Thrings is proud to have played such a pivotal role in maintaining a part of Bath’s cultural heritage.

Patrick Cave, General Manager and Director of The Bell Inn said: “One of the key initial decisions we made was to assemble a team of top professionals from the worlds of law, accounting and design. With limited funds at that stage, we asked these professionals to help us out as much as they could and were delighted that Thrings were able to come on board. They have been a pleasure to work with.”

For further commentary on this case, or to discuss any commercial property-related issue, please contact a member of Thrings' Commercial Property team.

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