Residents in one village in Lancashire have become the first in Britain to take over the library, post office and village store in a bid to stop it becoming a ‘ghost town’
Many of us feel a bit uninspired when we walk along our local high street – with lots of shops closed or set to close soon.
But one village in Lancashire has become an example of how our fortunes can be reversed through community spirit.
In the village of Trawden, residents have worked together to take over the library, the post office, the store and even the pub. They now also have high street access to cash
The incredible community spirit has helped reverse the fortunes of the Lancashire village and ensured that it doesn’t turn into a ghost town.
Stephen Wilcock, chair of the Trawden Community Trust, told Lancashire Live : “I do think it’s the way forward for villages like this. These things are very successful and they’re sustainable as well, whereas perhaps private businesses aren’t.”
As a youngster, Mr Wilcock remembers the village bustling with people, with a thriving fabric mill keeping people employed.
But gradual decline means the last mills closed in the 1970s, followed by a number of local churches and businesses.
The village’s fortunes were reversed in 2014 when the council offered to sell the community centre to residents for £1.
Mr Wilcock told the Telegraph : “We felt this was a line in the sand – something had to be done or our community spirit might never recover.”
Now it is thriving, with an online schedule offering a wide variety including Tai-Chi, Brownies, Guides, weddings and humanist funerals.
The purchase spurred on villagers to reclaim other assets that had become run-down over the years.
In 2017, the community trust purchased the library – which is now hustling and bustling thanks to a £350,000 renovation programme
Meanwhile, the adjacent health centre has been turned into a popular convenience shop, designed to reduce the usage of plastic and unnecessary packaging.
More than 100 local volunteers help keep both open by working two-hour shifts – while a postman visits weekly to drop off packages.
Residents can bring their own containers to fill with items such as laundry liquid, washing up liquid, flours, sugars, nuts, pulses, herbs and spices.
Dad Dave Webber, who moved to the village more than ten years ago with his family said Trawden is filled with community spirit.
He added: “Going back 100 years ago there were dozens of shops in the village. I don’t think we’ll ever see that retail trade coming back to villages like Trawden but that makes it all the more important.”
The Mirror has previously reported on their successful efforts to take over the Trawden Arms after the community raised £550,000 to keep the last pub in the village open.
Having opened in 1895, the boozer survived two world wars and countless recessions but it was the Covid-19 pandemic it fell victim to and was unable to find a landlord willing to buy.
Of the 1,919 people who populate the village, around 400 bought shares, for a minimum of £500, with all profits ploughed back into the pub over the next three years.
It is hoped investors will get their money back as the business grows.
After it was saved last year, tenants Adam Young and Jo Stafford said they were overwhelmed by the support of their regulars, who helped swell the pub’s coffers.
Now the village serves as a shining example to other rural communities that see public services shutting down around them.
Adam, 37, said: “There is something truly special about the community spirit here in Trawden. The secret of the pub’s survival is that we are not the only ones running it – there are another 400 landlords living in the village.’
Dad Dave, who helped save the pub, said: “We’ve had a lot of interest from villages looking to do the same thing. We had a lot of help from the Plunkett Foundation which was really vital.
“This kind of thing has been happening up and down the country and the government has recognised that with the Community Ownership Fund so it’ll be interesting to see.”