STRAP Chairman’s Update – 7th September 2020

Chairman’s Update – 7th September 2020

Railway Arms Pub, Saffron Walden


  • Update on progress towards exchange of contracts and completion
  • Offers of help and assistance gratefully received
  • Online questionnaires
  • Socially distanced volunteer opportunities at the Railway.
  • Update on Share Offer. Help grow the refurbishment fund.
  • Help us document a piece of Railway history

Dear All,

As we move into September, 2 months after our offer to purchase the Railway Arms was accepted, I’m told that we are probably at least two weeks from exchange of contracts. We had hoped that the process would be quicker but it’s in the hands of solicitors and we are in regular contact, responding as and when required. It’s the nature of these things that it may speed up towards the end and we’ll be ready to go whenever the call comes. Insurance will be in place to cover the buildings and public liability, the latter to cover volunteer work parties engaged in the necessary clearance and reinstatement of the garden, along with any number of cleaning and maintenance tasks that await us.

In this respect we would like to offer a huge thank you to the many individuals and companies that have come forward, over the last two months in particular, with offers of help and support. These range from offers of pro bono professional services to arrangements with other community groups offering skilled labour and volunteer support. We know from our early surveys and questionnaires that we can draw on a massive groundswell of community support; it’s great to think that the time has come to begin planning our work parties. We’ve been identifying areas of need and it will come as no surprise that we can offer volunteering opportunities as we address a host of gardening, cleaning, decorating and maintenance tasks and, of course, we’ll need to expand the management committee. We’ll need leaders, organisers and doers in all areas and we’re very much open to offers and suggestions.

After almost 4 years our collective dream is about to become a reality and we know that members and supporters will be keen to get involved. Circumstances dictate that we do so in appropriate and socially distanced ways and your health and safety will be our top priority. We’ll be recasting and relaunching our existing website questionnaire, via Smart Survey, to gather offers as well as up to date thoughts and views concerning your aspirations for the pub and its facilities.

We have already sent an online survey to over 60 clubs and societies in the area, asking how Saffron Walden’s first community-owned pub can help them deliver their aims and how they might wish to use its facilities. Early responses have been very encouraging and we look forward to learning more about the community’s needs. If you are a member of a group that hasn’t received our request to complete the survey please do get in touch, telling us who to contact, and we’ll send it out.

Our share offer remains open until the end of the month and we’re closing in on our second target, which will see us maximise the Community Share Booster investment. We’re within £1200 of raising the maximum £50,000 that the programme is able match pound for pound. Every £50 share purchased now is worth £100 to our refurbishment budget. Add the Social Investment Tax Relief into the mix and the incentive is even greater. We’ve set an ambitious final target of a further £25,000 on top of that. The money to fund the purchase was secured long ago, it’s all about the refurbishment and our More Than a Pub plans for the garden and outbuildings now.

We’d like to document the Railway’s transformation in fortunes and we’re asking for your ideas on how we should do it. Time-lapse photography, video diaries, interviews and “what the Railway means to me” contributions have all been suggested. We can make this record in any number of ways, song, dance, theatre, writing – produced in audio and/or video formats; in fact in whatever medium and using whatever format you prefer. More details to follow but in the meantime get your creative juices flowing and help us to document a piece of Railway history!


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