A VISION OF THE FUTURE WHITE HORSE
By Cherry Maslen
What do you think of when you think of a village? It’s a safe bet that a traditional, cosy pub with beams and a log fire is part of the picture, along with an ancient church, cottages and a village green. The traditional pub is at the very heart of community life: living within walking distance of one always comes high on the wish list of househunters in village and rural areas. According to one 2022 survey, home buyers even put the proximity of a pub above schools and train stations.
People want to be able to walk to the pub for a meal or drink, but also to feel part of their community, to meet regularly with friends and neighbours, to catch up on what’s happening locally, to find out if anyone knows a good builder or decorator, to see what everyone thinks about the latest planning applications/roadworks/house prices.
It’s a place to celebrate, for gatherings at significant times of the year including Christmas, birthdays, bank holidays, and in Kimpton’s case the annual highlights of the May Festival and summer Folk Festival.
Of course Kimpton does have a pub which serves some members of the community very well, but evidence shows that the village is big enough for two pubs as long as they both offer something different, complementing each other rather than competing. In fact, per head of population Kimpton has only half the national average number of pubs, and half the average for the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency. Nearby, Wheathampstead has two pubs plus a micro-pub, Codicote has two, Sandridge has three and Welwyn village has five. So Kimpton can easily support another pub provided it has the right offer. The future White Horse would:
- Create a cosy, welcoming, dog-friendly, country pub atmosphere, making the most of the 18th-century listed building, with subtle lighting, a log fire in winter and a sunny beer terrace in summer.
- Provide a daytime café for quality barista coffee, casual brunch, cakes, snacks, and a warm space in winter.
- Serve local craft real ales, good quality wine and locally sourced, quality pub food.
- Offer a welcoming space for local groups and clubs to meet, and a calendar of events including live music and themed nights.
- Provide a destination for walkers and cyclists to refuel with coffee, cake, and café food after exploring the excellent local footpaths and cycle routes.
Above all, as a community pub in which every resident will have the opportunity to buy shares, The White Horse will be run for the benefit of everyone in the village rather than for the benefit of a pub co. The last 10 years has seen a huge rise in pubs owned by their communities across the country, as local residents refuse to allow their historic and characterful pubs to be lost forever for the sake of one or two more houses.
The success rate of community owned pubs is dramatically higher than those owned by pub companies, in fact only one has so far been known to close. With local residents as shareholders having a vested interest in making the pub a success, everyone wins just by going down to the pub and ordering a pint or a glass of wine, knowing that in enjoying a drink with friends they are also doing something positive to benefit their community.