Community Business Weekend at the Brown Bear

Come down to the Brown Bear in Berwick this weekend and discover our big plans for the future!

We’re developing the long term business plan for development of the Brown Bear and expanding the business activities across the whole site. We will be showing you our conceptual designs for what lays ahead, and providing a catch-up on what’s been happening since our launch.

We will have a questionnaire about how the shape of future redevelopment at the pub should look, and we want Berwick to have a say in what should happen in the long term.

The artists visuals are ideas for the kind of things the back yard can be developed into

In its first year of operation the pub has done:

Open Mic
Bear Facts Quiz
Folk n Roots
Book swap
Televised terrestrial sports and major events like royal weddings
Community meeting room – free to voluntary organisations – among others who use it are:

  • Riding of the Bounds Association
    – Royal Society of Arts
    – Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival

The Brown Bear is the only Community Business registered for this event in the area.

Just one example of what we do differently, as with lots of other stuff, is we work with Terracyle as a drop off point for hard to recycle items. People can drop in items like pens, CD’s or baby food pouches – just one example of how the Brown Bear is helping both the community and environment.

Brown Bear Inn is a ‘saved’ pub that’s becoming a proper fit for 21st century purpose public house; We’re a not for profit, Living Wage Foundation accredited social enterprise. The business is people facing, with a community advisory group setting up a cooperative benefit society; and community share issue to buy the freehold; develop and manage the future expansion of the pub and its half-acre back yard.

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!

Now we’re hosting a range of events across Community Business Weekend to show what the Brown Bear is today, and what it’s growing into. Ranging from the 409th annual celebration of Berwick’s Riding the Bounds; Artist William Hamilton’s the Northumberland Colouring Book launch and painting exhibition; A talk by historian Jim Herbert on his book ‘A Brief History of Opening Time; the story of the Brown Bear’. There will be Meet the Brewer and much more with live music and a pop up Kitchen

Click here to find out more about Community Business Weekend.

From 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

4th, 5th, 6th and 7th
with Events being held across the whole weekend.

Become a volunteer, become a trustee, become a shareholder and become a customer.

Parking. Public transport.

Twitter: @BrownBearInn
Instagram: @BerwickBrownBear

#BringBackTheBear #Cbwkd18

The Brown Bear advisory group needs a treasurer and secretary , interested? Say hello.

New management team at the Brown Bear

We are very pleased to announce that the Brown Bear has a new management team in place. As of the end of Nov 2017, Dave & Kay Goodwin have moved up to Berwick from the Midlands and taken over the day to day running of the pub. They have many years of experience in running pubs and will be sure to make all customers, both new and existing, very welcome.

Please do pop in and make them welcome to the borders and our beautiful town of Berwick.


Roger Protz on the Brown Bear Inn

Roger Protz visits the Brown Bear

The night after the Brown Bear opened we were incredibly blessed to receive a visit from Roger Protz. You can read his full write up through the link below:

“In Berwick Mark was keen to take over the Brown Bear, the town’s oldest pub and named after its coat of arms. It was rebuilt in 1898 but is far older and may once have been a coaching inn on the Great North Road – a local historian is researching its history.

The landlady had run the pub for 18 years and wanted to get out.

Enterprise put it up for auction in 2016 for £150,000 and it was bought by a local businessman, Frank Flannigan. A local group approached him and urged to save the Brown Bear as a pub and a community asset.

More Than A Pub

“More Than A Pub”; good Pubs are all about the people, and the places they serve. The Brown Bear Inn has a long history at the social heart of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Soon you’ll have the chance to take part in putting this iconic pub back in its right place again…

Watch this space for news on joining the Brown Bear Club or sign up to our mailing list for updates via the submission option to the right.

The Great British Public House has been under attack from arms length corporate ownership interests and in the past two decades tens of thousands of pubs have been lost to history, asset stripped, run into the ground, and flogged off for alternative use. This is damaging community cohesion everywhere and it’s beyond high time for People Who Love Pubs to take them back and put Pubs at the heart of their community again.

Evidence that this is the case comes from across the UK where communities have been taking control of their Local by setting up cooperative share ownership schemes to invest in chronically run down pubs and preserve them as community assets.

The Brown Bear Club is the next step in multi stakeholder involvement in pubs and is a radical rethink on the sharing of risk, responsibility and reward and in shaping the future of the Great British Public House. From modest beginnings at the Brown Bear Inn in Berwick-upon-Tweed we hope to build a pub company through which people will invest and take ownership of pubs fit for the 21st century, pubs that are run with a triple bottom line of People, Planet, Profit as their guiding principle – as well as having a cracking good time in the serving and making of happy communities of course!

Ladies and Gentlemen we bring you #BringBacktheBear stakeholders gallery!

Some of the amazing behind the scenes people who’ve been involved in bringing Berwick’s iconic Brown Bear Inn back from the brink of oblivion for the future enjoyment, entertainment and edification of the people of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the beautiful Borders and beyond. Pubs for All All for Pubs!


Click here to view the Gallery of our wonderful friends.

Day XV – Delay to Brown Bear Relaunch

Dear Berwick-upon-Tweed

We must announce a delay to the re-opening of the Brown Bear Inn, to Thursday 8 December 2016.

ALL is going well – just we don’t have a clairvoyant on site, yet.

Just telephone lines taking time to get in place because the Brown Bear Inn street address and post code wasn’t registered with Royal Mail (though they said it used to be!). Until this happens the Phone Coop (or any other phone line supplier) can’t supply lines anywhere in case of emergency call out, such as the fire brigade being called to a street number (27 Hide Hill in this instance) that doesn’t match up with a post code and end up being held up trying to find the premises the emergency call was made from. Makes a lot of sense really, but that postcode street address test is only done once the contract is agreed and; Bingo.

Then card machines can’t be ordered fully until telephone lines are booked and we know the numbers (this happened 30 November, yesterday) and there are a few bits and pieces (such as we discover the beer lines are from Vaux days and most likely were installed in the 1990’s.)

However, we are a Public House and expect to serve perfect beer, and that can’t be done on such old lines.

Above is the news piece from the Berwick Advertiser announcing the above, with many thanks to Ian Smith for following our progress so diligently.


Guest Post: ‘Why the Brown Bear WILL work’

“Thursday 8th December – there must be something in the air!

I would have jumped on a train and been there for the launch as you know, but it just so happens we have a pub relaunch of our own going on that night down here in York.

The Brown Bear is a wonderful project, and it could not be in better hands. It WILL work, and Berwick will be the richer for it.

How can I be so sure? Well because I know you for one thing, and I know what a power for good you have been for all things pub-related over the years. But also because I know how possible it is to reinstate pubs from my own experience, having been involved in similar projects with three ex-pubco freeholds in my home city.

The Slip Inn, Volunteer Arms and Woolpack Inn in York were all in the same boat as The Brown Bear. Used up, neglected and discarded by asset-sweating/stripping pubcos (along of course with the unfortunate tenants who were expected to manage under the impossible terms of their tied rental agreements).

As you know, thousands of such pubs have been lost forever due to the disposal practices of their corporate owners, but a lucky few escape the rapacious developers and the opportunistic supermarket chains and find themselves in the hands of devoted new owners, who are prepared to invest the time, care, effort and (inevitably) the certain amount of money required to begin the recovery process, which is exactly what the Brown Bear is receiving from you and your amazing band of volunteer assistants at this moment.

May the Brown Bear and The Woolpack both begin their long awaited journeys into a brighter future on 8th December, and may both serve as beacons for your concept of pubs lovingly reclaimed by and for the people.

I’ll be raising a glass to you all on the night.

Long live The People’s Pub Partnership!

RSVP – The Woolpack Inn – Relaunch Event

Day VIII – Explore the History of the Brown Bear

We’ve been busy! While the on the ground team are beavering away repairing the Bear, behind the scenes others are doing important work delving into the history of the pub and its relationship to Berwick’s Sense of Place… while yet more good people work diligently on the challenging task of selecting beers, wines, spirits, a range of delicious nutritious sustaining non alcoholic ‘beverages’ and what’s going on the food side of things…

Follow this link to see our short film featuring
Jim Herbert introducing Brown Bear Inn to the 21st century with historical context #BringBackTheBear

With thanks to Jason Thompson our social enterprise film maker guru from Sound Ideas Media