Hayscastle / Cas-lai is a small inland community in rural north-west Pembrokeshire, situated in the shadow of Plumstone Mountain, some seven miles north of the county town of Haverfordwest, a mile from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and around five miles from the coast. Its main residential areas being Hayscastle Cross and Pont-Y-Hafod.
Recent years have seen the closure of the community’s two shops and Post Office, as well as the petrol station and garage. The village school closed in 2010. The Cross Inn, which has been run continuously by the Phillips family for over 160 years, remains open. Hayscastle Church and Noddfa Newton Chapel continue to hold regular services for the community’s residents.
The Cross Inn, Hayscastle has been bringing our community together for over 160 years. It has provided a place for families and friends to come together and enjoy great food, drink, and company.
The pub has been in the same family since 1861 and is currently owned and run by Angela and Wayne Phillips. The current owners are seeking a lifestyle change and have put the pub on the market for sale. Unfortunately, after nearly two years and despite a significant price reduction no substantive offers have been received. It is understandable therefore that the current owners are considering alternatives to selling the property as a going concern.
Concerned about the future of the pub, and the fact that it might close, a small group, with a diverse range of skills and experience, came together during the summer of 2022 to see if it would be feasible to buy the pub and run it as a community venture. The group grew from two to four, four into eight, and eight to fifteen.
On 15 August 2022, the first public meeting was held, where the local community and representatives from various local organisations and societies came together to share ideas, and discuss the potential of the Cross Inn as a community-owned pub. This was followed-up with a questionnaire which generated 90 responses.
Following this a second public meeting held was held at Newton Chapel on the 27th of September 2022 to share information and answer queries about the initiative. At this meeting the nominations were put forward for key committee member roles. We also agreed that we would continue to evaluate the feasibility of this project and hold another public meeting at the end of January to make a go / no-go decision.
A third public meeting on the 24th of January, attended by over 100 members of the community, unanimously voted to go ahead with the project.
The feedback received during these engagement activities shows that there is considerable support for the initiative within the local community. Of those who responded to a questionnaire 60% noted that they thought it was ‘most important’ for the Cross Inn to remain as a pub that also acts as a local community hub and 50% noted that they were interested in buying shares.
With support from Cwmpas, Y Cross Cas-lai was registered as a Community Beneﬁt Society in January 2023. The Financial Conduct Authority registration number is 9002.
The Share Offer was officially launched on 26th February 2023 and following a comprehensive marking campaign, the minimum share offer target of £200k was reached on 21st May 2023. The final amount raised from Share Sales was £210,200, plus an additional £13,772 was raised from fundraising events. On 30th June 2023, UK Government announced that Y Cross Cas-lai CBS had been awarded £244,000 through is Community Ownership Fund.
Following receipt of the grant funding and the conveyancing of the building, the pub was purchased by the community on 31st October. There is now essential works being undertaken in order to enable the pub to reopen in mid-November.