The next step in securing community ownership of a beloved rural pub has been made.

The price has been agreed for the Samson Inn in Gilsland, and a community group established to get the pub up and running again.

Situated in a prime spot on the Hadrian’s Wall walking route, the inn, which closed in October 2022, was an asset to the community as a local pub as well as a watering hole for visitors from around the world doing the trek.

Mim Lincoln, part of the Gilsland Community Benefit Society Limited (GCBSL), said: “It was a lovely combination of locals that would go in after work, but then you would get chatting to people from all over the world.

“When it closed, some members of staff got together and decided what they could do, and found out if there was an appetite for a community pub.

“We gauged the level of enthusiasm and determined that we do need this pub.

“The price has now been agreed (£295,000), subject to funding and contract, and we are now applying for community ownership funding.

“We have a narrow window of time to prove that there are enough people out there who want to invest and buy shares in the pub.

“We are now announcing to the public that the price has been agreed, and that we need people to pledge to buy shares.

“In order to make this available to the whole community, we want to be inclusive; it’s a community pub for the community.

“It’s £1 a share, with a minimum pledge of 25 shares, and it’s all about making sure that every person in our community can be involved in this, and what you get for your shares is a forever pub.”

The group has been working with The Plunkett Foundation, a British charity which works with rural communities to create and run community-owned businesses.

Jane McDade, the chair of GCBSL, explained the next steps: “The Plunkett Foundation immediately recognised our enthusiasm.

“We got ourselves a bank account and funding from them and they’ve now put us forward for the community ownership fund, which is part of the government’s levelling up fund.”

She explained that other local organisations have helped, such as the WI.

They now need to prove to the community ownership fund that there is a backing for it in the community, and they have until January 31, 2024 to do so.

Now, they are urging people to pledge to buy shares.

Jane said they’re hoping to raise between £130,000 and £160,000 via share pledges, with the remainder being hopefully covered by the fund, approval pending.

If it’s in community ownership, the pub will go back to operating as an inn that serves food as well as a pub.

“We’re very well aware that we're on a national historical site and so many people come to share our countryside and wall, we're also working with local businesses like the café House of Meg, and they know we're not going to compete with them, we intend to all complement each other,” Jane concluded.