Big plans for the future at the Brown Bear

It's been a rollercoaster ride but Berwick's Brown Bear pub firmly appears to be on the up.

Friday, 11th May 2018, 09:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 10:45 am
Mark Dodds at the Brown Bear in Berwick.

The Hide Hill venue reopened just over a year ago after being taken on by a community group as a social enterprise under lease from landlord Frank Flannigan.

It now holds regular open mic and quiz nights, plays host to folk and roots musicians, darts nights and is a popular venue for community group meetings.

A range of events were also held there as part of the recent Community Business Weekend to show what the Brown Bear is now and growing into.

This included a celebration of Berwick’s Riding of the Bounds, the launch of artist William Hamilton’s Northumberland colouring book and painting exhibition and a talk by local historian Jim Herbert on his book A Brief History of Opening Time: The Story of the Brown Bear.

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Project manager Mark Dodds said: “Businesses such as ours offer the community a chance to take power into their own hands by bringing people together around a common purpose.

“In our case, the Brown Bear community pub was under threat of being sold to developers, which we thankfully managed to stop.

“Input from the community has redefined who we are – incorporating facilities, services and amenities to make it fit for 21st century community purpose. No one would ever say it’s easy to start a community business, but when it works – it’s magic!

The team is now putting together a long-term business plan for development of the Brown Bear and expanding its activities across the whole site, with plans to redevelop the extensive back yard.

It has ambitious plans for an outdoor kitchen and micro-brewery and, further down the line, to build 11 en-suite rooms and four artisan workshops and create The Bear Pit, a club hosting comedy, jazz and exhibitions.

The Brown Bear advisory group is setting up a cooperative benefit society and plans a community share issue to buy the freehold and develop and manage the future expansion. It needs a treasurer and secretary. If interested, visit www.berwickbrownbear.co.uk