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A Star is Born

by ChrisCook Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 07:28:07 AM EST

I live in Linlithgow.

A historic pub - the 'Star & Garter' - burnt to a shell a couple of years ago.


In the two years since then, the insurers apparently refused to pay up, and the owner - a company - went bust and is in liquidation with the bank having put the property on the market as secured creditors.

A couple of very lowball bids came in, because it's a 'Grade A' listed building, which will be costly and messy to restore.

The risk is that the building falls into the hands of a developer who then sits on it for the next ten years, which is precisely what has happened with an old cinema on the High Street.

Now, the local community have employed consultants to look at lots of sites in the village which the Council wishes to divest into community ownership, and when they were asked to look at this project they said it couldn't be done.

Wrong answer.

Star & Garter Trust
A small group of us got our heads together - and I'm the Founding Secretary -  and this Monday we constituted the 'Star & Garter Trust' using a very 'lightweight' interim constitution.

I set up a Star & Garter Trust blog last night, put it on a Facebook group, and tweeted it and interest has been phenomenal.

Not least from our very own Helen, with whom this struck a real chord, being the sort of community co-operative pub venture she's been referring to on ET for some considerable time.

Apart from being where Alex Salmond went to school, Linlithgow has a pretty clued up, solvent and well connected population, situated as it is within easy commuting distance on the main line between the power centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

For my part I see this project as a prototype to test the simple but radical legal and financial framework for investment I have been working on for years, and most of all to test the financing instrument which I believe wipes the floor with conventional investment.

As I have been saying for years, we can't solve 21st century problems with 20th century solutions.

The irony is that we have to go back hundreds of years to the simple instrument that pre-dated the modern banking system.

Hot off the Press, solveig had the genius idea of a micro-brewery for which the site could well be suited as a tourist attraction and a source of beer for all of the local hostelries.

Anyone interested in helping or potentially investing, please get in touch.

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You will need to look into the listed building status very closely as that can turn a reasonable restoration project into a bottomless money pit.

Not just that, but best practice H&S requirements for new build will almost certainly conflict with listed status requirements to restore to pre-fire condition

Your best bet is to try to say that you will maintain the external facia, but they have to give you carte blanche to do what you will inside, else this project may have serious problems. Sadly, the people who do listed status are neither known for their ability to compromise nor their ability to listen to reason.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 07:46:37 AM EST
and you need to do this before you seriously involve the liquidator.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 07:48:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are seeing the Architectural Heritage Fund re 'seed funding' for that very purpose tonight.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see this project as a prototype to test the simple but radical legal and financial framework for investment I have been working on for years, and most of all to test the financing instrument which I believe wipes the floor with conventional investment.

Can you flesh this out with us a bit ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 07:49:57 AM EST
I shall flesh that out later.

Much to do. Article just gone into the Gazette; conversation with the Prince's Trust for Building Community (who are completely onside); etc etc

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
btw, what does the pub next door think of this ? Obviously a decent real ale pub will probably act as a concentrator to the scene, but it would be best if they were kept onside. Would they have any ambitions to be involved in a managerial state ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:01:43 AM EST
At worst, Platform Three (the tiny micropub annexe which survived the fire) would get spill-over from the pub next door as they always did - they were essentially a spin off from the Star & Garter.

The way I envisage it - which is as a 'learning by doing' way to train up young managers and hospitality staff - they (and other experienced professionals) could oversee and train the staff of what we would aim to be a very youth-focused enterprise with (paid_mentors and quality control.

As you say, we need to keep everyone on-side insofar as is possible. Consultation is key.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your suggestion of a brewpub onsite is a good one. I've already sent details of a couple of local pubs doing just that.

I do recommend you talk to the people at Dark Star about the practicalities as I know they've acted as advisor/consultants to other pubs.

Equally I would counsel that you need to be up and running as a pub before you start worrying about doing microbrewing.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:43:12 AM EST
We need to plan for a micro-brewery at the outset - right from the concept stage.

Implementation is another matter. It's not a matter of either/or.

The point being that a micro-brewery would probably be a much more concrete investment proposition.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 08:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but looking around the site, you have one large building, a small car park and that's it.

A small tower brewery within the building is an idea and I know that Dark Star make a big thing of compacting so that they are very space efficient (nb. at the cost of higher maintenance).

But you're right, if its going to be done onsite, then it needs to be planned (and plumbed) in from the start.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 09:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The way I see it, the micro-brewery would go into the car park, and be separated from a pub conservatory (there used to be one) by a plexi-glass wall so the punters could see what's brewing.

Raw materials would come in from above via the back access to the station.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 10:36:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating idea.  Our town has an historic adobe  theater that is in disrepair.  We've tossed around ideas of how to save and restore it to it's former glory in a financially viable way.  It's three connected  buildings, located on a street of historic adobes (ok, historic here means 1910's) that have been converted to art galleries and shops.  A microbrewery with pub food could possible support a theater/performance center if grant money could be found to renovate the buildings.  
by ElaineinNM on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 10:56:48 AM EST
1910 goes back to the emergence of modern humans.

(Doesn't it?)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 01:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US it does.

(Here in Trento, on the pther hand, we have a restaurant that had already been around at least 365 years....).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 01:11:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In one sense it does: a year later along comes Rutherford and discovers the nuclear family, the distinguishing feature, so I've heard, of the modern human/s. Or something like that.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 01:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And soon thereafter he introduced Fission Chips at a local space-time get-together of his relatives.  This fusion cuisine was regularly eaten by Hans Bethe during his student days.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 02:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the distinguishing feature, so I've heard, of the modern human/s.

I thought that was Twitter.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 03:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Facebook.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 09:51:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With a nod to the behind the scenes, influential Order of St. George? Reputed civil front for surviving Templars?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 02:39:14 PM EST
I'm for this.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 07:07:06 PM EST
Strong Second.

With the added benefit that Linlithgow is cool to visit anyway, especially as one likely has to pass through Edinburgh to get to Chris' pilot project.

Wishing you much success, Chris and co.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu May 24th, 2012 at 04:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could shares earn nights at the rebuilt Star and Garter?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 23rd, 2012 at 09:52:37 PM EST
Joint stock companies? I speeeet on zem.

So no shares.

But if all goes well you will be able to use Star Stock to pay for nights at the Star and Garter - assuming that there is any accommodation there, which is as yet by no means decided.

The difference between stock and share has been long forgotten.

I aim to restore the distinction.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu May 24th, 2012 at 07:37:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
passed the blog link on to friends near Dumfries. Would have looked at the video, but it informs me that it's not available in my country.
by Mnemosyne on Tue May 29th, 2012 at 02:10:00 PM EST


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