The Swinburne Arms Village Shop was officially opened by Stamfordham locals this week creating an essential new service for over a thousand village residents and the wider community with support from Pub is The Hub.
The shop, situated at the rear of the pub in an old stable and storeroom was opened by three of the village’s retired residents, Bill Telfer, his brother, Percy Telfer and John Minto who are now able to pick up daily groceries and newspapers without having to drive 7 miles to Ponteland or 15 miles to Hexham. Bill and Percy are retired farmers but still help out on their sons’ farms and John Minto goes to the shop every day for his daily paper.
Privately owned by the Capheaton Estate, The Swinburne Arms has undergone a revival since newcomers, Rob and Anne Gormanley took on the pub in August 2014. Although experienced business people, neither had run a pub, but this has not deterred the couple from throwing themselves 100% into putting the pub back at the heart of the community.
With the closure of the village shop ten years before followed by the loss of the Post Office and reduction in village bus services, Rob and Anne were inspired by Pub is The Hub to develop the stable and outbuilding that was being used as storage space. They had support from the parish council, residents and community groups, and Pub is The Hub was able to step in with a grant from their Community Services Fund for £4,000 which was then matched by the Capheaton Estate. The couple invested the remainder of the project costs from their own business.
Open every day – from 7am to 1pm & 3 to 5.30pm on Monday to Saturday and from 7am to 1pm on Sunday – shelves are well stocked with everyday items such as newspapers, locally supplied bread and eggs, milk, diary produce and other convenience foods. Rob and Anne are intending to expand stock from local suppliers over time and as they establish what customers will need. The shop is also proving very popular with the village’s children and employs two local part-time employees; Diane Parry and Kody Greene.
Anne Gormanley said: “Our dream was to breathe life back into the pub but we quickly realised that the village was crying out for this other essential service. We’ve had tremendous support from the whole village and we are delighted with everyone’s reaction.”
Trisha Hughes, regional advisor from Pub is The Hub added: “Rob and Anne have made a really wonderful job with this project. New to the business, they have invigorated the pub business with gusto and quickly spotted where they could extend their support for the community with a shop. As a result they are stocking produce from local suppliers as well as providing two new part-time jobs for village residents. For that, we must applaud them and wish them luck.”
Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund was established with funding from the government and the drinks manufacturer Diageo PLC in April 2013 to help UK pubs to diversify into new services provision for their own communities. In launching the fund, Pub is The Hub recognised that good licensees today can work with the public, private and voluntary sector to improve the local economy and is now able to provide grants of up to £3,000.
The photograph above shows: Anne and Rob Gormanley with Bill Telfer in the shop