Ravensbourne Arms
The Ravensbourne Arms has been closed since October 2016

Former Squeeze star Jools Holland has backed a plan to turn the closed Ravensbourne Arms pub in Lewisham into a community music venue.

The team behind Sister Midnight Records, a former shop and music venue in Deptford, are trying to raise £500,000 from SE Londoners to buy the pub, which closed five years ago after it was sold by the bar company Antic to a developer.

Flats have since been built above the bar, but the freehold of the building is for sale once again. Sister Midnight aims to to open Lewisham borough’s first community live music pub, with locals invited to buy shares. So far, £50,000 has been raised.

Holland, who hosts the long-running Later… with Jools Holland music show on BBC2, was brought up in Blackheath and his family came from Greenwich and Deptford. He endorsed the share scheme in an Instagram video.

The keyboard player joined Squeeze shortly after they were founded in Deptford in 1974, leaving for a solo career six years later. He still retains links with the area, including owning recording studios close to Westcombe Park railway station.

“The music scene in south-east London means a great deal to me – it’s where I came from, it’s where I come out of,” the 63-year-old said.

“That’s why I support the Ravensbourne Arms – I’ve invested and you can too.”

Other backers include the Dublin band Fontaines DC and the south London group Goat Girl.

Sister Midnight has formed a not-for-profit community benefit society as part of its plan to take on the Ravensbourne Arms. A similar model was used in 2013 to reopen The Ivy House in Nunhead, which became London’s first co-operatively owned pub after being saved from developers. Regulars and neighbours can buy shares and have a say in how the pub is run.

The total cost of taking on the Ravensbourne Arms is estimated at £3.1 million, of which £2.6 million would be raised by loans with the rest coming from shares or grants.

While the minimum shareholding is £100, a limited number of affordable £25 shares are being made available to those on low incomes.

More information about the fundraiser can be found on sistermidnight.org.

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