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Community launches campaign to save village pub

23 Apr 2024 5 minute read
The Angel Inn, Salem, Llandeilo

Stephen Price

Residents of a small rural village have launched a campaign to save their local pub and turn it into a vibrant community space.

The Angel Inn is located in Salem – a small, friendly village nestled in the hills of Carmarthenshire, just north of the historic town of Llandeilo

The group aim to run the inn as a community-owned hub that they say will create jobs and volunteer opportunities and also “strengthen community cohesion and resilience, provide affordable food and drink, attract tourists to stay, eat and drink, and create a vibrant community space for all”.


Salem grew around the old Roman Road – its historic name ‘Heolgaled’  meaning ‘hard road’ – and today the village sits within the electoral ward of Manordeilo and Salem with a joint Community Council.

The ward population of 1,754 is recorded on the 2011 census – but Salem village itself is small, and many residents live on scattered hamlets, on smallholdings and farms.


After serving the community for over 150 years, Salem’s historic Angel Inn closed its doors in July 2022. There is now a risk that the pub will be lost to the community forever.

The Angel was once the heart of the village, and its closure was a huge loss for the community.

There is currently nowhere in Salem offering food or drink for holidaymakers to eat, or for residents to meet and socialise in a relaxed atmosphere.

Working with Cwmpas (social business experts) and the Plunkett Foundation (community pub experts) they’ve formed a new community organisation, with volunteers from the village and outlying areas.

Save The Angel Inn campaign image

They are campaigning, fundraising and engaging with the community to develop a shared vision for the site.

A food hwb volunteer said: “During the Covid pandemic the Angel played an incredibly important role as a community food hwb – distributing food for donations and takeaway meals as a vital resource for those without transport, shielding, and the elderly.

“For all of us who volunteered or used the hwb it was a lifeline. It connected the village at a time of crisis. This project is born out of that experience, and the desire of the village not to lose that vital resource.


To get the project off the ground, villagers need to demonstrate that the purchase has the solid backing of the community.

They have therefore launched a Community Share Pledge – to gauge the level of support – and invite everyone far and wide to get involved.

Their share pledge opens on 22nd April 2024 and runs for 4 weeks until 20th May.

Their aim is to secure the pub for the community, by the community.

Community pubs are growing in popularity and a successful business model – and they are setting up a Community Benefit Society (CBS) – a not-for-profit business model which is attractive to funders and used successfully by communities across Wales – like the White Hart in St Dogmaels and Tafarn y Vale in Ceredigion.

With community ownership they aim to have control over what the pub can offer, and make it work for everyone.

Research by the Plunkett Foundation has shown that community owned pubs have a 99% success rate.


The group has a target of £350,000 in order secure the pub for the community and renovate it and open it, but they have set more modest goals that they must reach first.

A spokesperson said: “£50k is the minimum needed to get this project off the ground, and to match-fund the grants we are going for, while £250k is the optimum amount needed to secure the pub for the community.

“And if we exceed our target we can do more – like making the pub energy efficient to cut our running costs, landscaping the site, and planning amenity areas, like a playground, for the village.

“We’re well aware that this sounds like a lot of money (because it is!), but pubs in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire have done this – it is possible.

“For example, if only 200 people pledge £250 each, we’ll get to our minimum £50k target. We’ve already secured a handful of larger pledges and so we’ll be well on our way.”

Community Vision

Salem’s vision has developed by engagement with the community at every stage.

In Autumn 2023, they launched a consultation on the future of the Angel and over 90% of respondents said they would like to see the pub re-open, and run by and for the community.

Many shared that they would like a place to work, learn, socialise together, with affordable, locally-sourced good food and drink, coffee and cake, wi-fi, a small community shop and opportunities to access services, like healthcare, education and training.

A spokesperson said: “We would like the pub to be sustainable, with low-cost energy options and eventually a community garden, space for a Farmers’ Market and a start and finish point for walking and cycling routes.

“Some people said they would like to help run it, and wanted to donate time and money to help.

“The ability to offer local jobs, space for cross-generational interaction and a warm space for home-workers to be able to work was also key.

“Consultation and feedback is helping us formulate our Business Plan (coming soon!) – and is an ongoing process.

“We continue to have meetups and social events to gauge opinion and share news of our progress – and always want to hear from the community.

“The more people we can get to pledge their support, the greater our ability will be to take the project forward – and demonstrate to grant funders that the community are behind the plans.”

Visit the Community Share Pledge website which runs for 4 weeks until 20 May for more information.

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