The future of a currently disused Lewisham pub hangs in the balance, after a collective hoping to turn it into a community-owned live music venue say they’ve been gazumped by a private bidder.
The Ravensbourne Arms in Ladywell closed in 2016, but last year, Sister Midnight — a community collective championing the south London music scene — spearheaded a £500k crowdfunding project to lease the pub by April 2022, transforming it into a hub for lovers of live music.
£225k has been raised to date, with Blackheath resident and Hootenanny master of ceremonies, Jools Holland, among the shareholders.
Now though, Sister Midnight — which is led by Sophie Farrell, Lenny Watson and Verity Hobbs, and started out in 2018 as a grassroots music venue in Deptford — says a private buyer has suddenly stepped in, offering £700k to the building’s owners. That offer has apparently been accepted.
It’s now all hands on deck, as Sister Midnight aims to ramp up crowdfunding and hit a target of at least £350k within two weeks, showing the fight for this venue isn’t yet over.
Donations from £25 upwards are being accepted, as well as the opportunity to buy shares in the pub, starting at £100.
It’s unclear what the redbrick 1930s building would become, should the private investors win the bid.
Says Sister Midnight: “If successful, London would see the pub reopened as a democratic, not-for-profit community space, but if unsuccessful and the pub is sold to private owners there are no guarantees about what the future of the Ravensbourne Arms will hold.”
South London post-punk band Goat Girl, added: “Having community run venues is so important, especially now with all the venues that are closing basically because of gentrification. With the model that Sister Midnight are pushing for being community owned, it’s not in the hands of big landlords.”
London has had some great successes with community-owned pubs before now, with the likes of The Ivy House in Nunhead, and the Antwerp Arms in Tottenham.
Help save the future of the Ravensbourne Arms — visit Sister Midnight’s website.