COMMUNITY-spirited neighbours are launching a pint-sized bid to buy out their local pub from a major brewery.

Kendal’s Castle Inn has stood empty since November 2018 when its licensees reluctantly called “last orders at the

bar” for the final time.

The once-bustling hostelry on Castle Street has been put up for sale by Heineken’s leased pub business for £180,000 - a price campaigners fear is worryingly cheap.

In a bid to stop developers turning the “sorely missed” local into housing, they are seeking to have the Castle Inn registered as an asset of community value. If successful, campaigners say this would give them valuable time to raise the money needed to buy it outright

The campaign to preserve Kendal’s Castle Inn as a pub has been launched by as “CIKOFF - Castle Inn Kendal, Open For the Future”.

Mandy Barnett, one of the organisers, said locals had been watching the Victorian property “mournfully” since its closure 16 months ago. They fear it being “lost forever” if sold to a property developer and turned into housing, subject to planning.

The hope is to preserve it as a “proper community pub” - not a “gastropub” - with a neighbourhood feel similar to Kendal’s New Union pub and Riflemans Arms, and the Eagle and Child in Staveley.

“People need these spaces to get to know each other and build that sense of community,” said Ms Barnett. “If the community buys it we can make sure it’s a good pub and stays there forever.”

The team have delivered leaflets to 350 households and are hoping people will come along to a public meeting on Thursday, March 12, at 8pm, at the Castle Street Community Centre.

The campaign group has set its sights on raising the £180,000 needed to buy the Castle Street premises, believed to have been a pub since at least 1849.

They have asked South Lakeland District Council to register the pub as an asset of community value, which would give them six months to raise the money.

The decision will be made by a senior officer, said an SLDC spokesman, and is expected to be made public on March 23.

Christine Boardley, who ran the Castle Inn for 18 years with her late partner, Geoff Metcalfe, has pledged her support. The popular couple faced stressful times when the two lounge bars were flooded in Storm Desmond on December 5, 2015. But by March 22, 2016 they were back pulling pints. They retired later that year and Mr Metcalfe sadly died in 2017.

“It would be lovely to see it open again, it really would. Fair play to them for having a go,” said former landlady and cook Mrs Boardley.

“It was a proper pub, a community pub, and they are few and far between now.

“I hate going past seeing it closed like it is. You can imagine over all those years, we made so many friends, and I’ve got a lot of very special memories.

“It was the hub of the community.”

The Castle’s final licensees were London couple Jamie and Victoria Jones in 2017. They reluctantly closed the doors a year later.

If the Castle did become a community pub, it would be Cumbria’s fourth, following trailblazers at the Punch Bowl Inn at Great Broughton, the Butchers Arms at Crosby Ravensworth, and the Old Crown at Hesket Newmarket.

Back in 2016 residents of Yealand Conyers, Redmayne and Storrs, in north Lancashire, tried to buy the New Inn, but did not manage to raise enough cash. It reopened in March 2017 under new ownership.

The Castle Inn campaigners are hoping to sell shares to the community and to seek £100,000 in loans and grants from the Plunkett Foundation, which helps community business in the UK. Its senior project manager, Hannah Barrett, told the Gazette: “There are currently 112 community pubs trading in the UK and they offer so much more than a pint: from hosting events, to fitness classes, health services and clubs - activities that make a difference to residents and meet needs within each community.

“Through the More than a Pub programme, Plunkett is pleased to offer advice and funding to any community in England who wish to run their own community pub.”

The Castle Inn has been put up for sale by Star Pubs & Bars, the leased pub business of Heineken UK.

The two-storey terraced property is being marketed by Fleurets for £180,000 for the freehold.

A spokeswoman said: “The Castle came to the market in late January and, since going live, there has been a good level of interest in the property, with one party presenting an acceptable offer.

“Although this party is a pub operator, we are not in a position to move forward with them at this moment in time because of the ACV [asset of community value] nomination.”

l To pledge your support, email or fill out the survey at