Project Brighton: Phil Mellows serves up the lowdown on local crowdfunding to save The Greys pub


They may not be the most famous words Roger Daltrey’s ever uttered – that’ll be “Hope I die before I get old”. But The Who frontman’s remark on a visit that The Greys is “a great little boozer” certainly captures the feelings of the Brighton pub’s regulars who have launched a crowdfunding campaign to save their local.

It will also cue a chorus of agreement from the scores of fellow musicians from all over the world who have humped their amps and instruments up Southover Street for the last 30 years to enjoy this tiny venue’s intimate atmosphere, and an appreciative audience that’s known for shutting up and listening.

Yet The Greys is under threat. Its owner, Britain’s largest pubco Enterprise Inns – now known as Ei Group – has put the freehold on the market after failing to find a tenant to run the business long term.

The last few years have seen a succession of publicans try to make it work, but their profits have been squeezed between what they have to pay for rent and beer, and the physical limitations of the building that, after all, are part of The Greys’ appeal.

Brighton & Hove Council has made the pub an Asset of Community Value, meaning it can’t be converted into anything else for five years. And now the Friends of The Greys, a group of local residents who want to make sure the pub they love can thrive into the future, have stepped up to try and buy it.

The Greys can survive commercially not only as a live music venue but as a great local pub

The idea is that as a freehouse that has the support and engagement of the people of Hanover, The Greys can survive commercially not only as a live music venue but as a great local pub that’s owned and controlled by the community that uses it.

A share issue aiming to raise £300,000 has been launched on the Crowdfunder website inviting members of the public to invest from £250 in the venture, with the prospect of not only earning interest should it prove a success but, subject to HMRC approval, up to 50 per cent tax relief.

Most of all, though, investors will get a piece of their own pub.

“And it’s not just any old pub,” as Keith Farmer, spokesman for the Save The Greys campaign points out.

“The Greys will continue to build on its reputation for a great atmosphere, friendly welcome and live music. But we want to take it further by making the pub a real community resource.

“In these days of social isolation we are also going to host a range of daytime activities that can bring the whole community together.”

Even other Hanover pubs that want to make sure the area remains a vibrant and characterful part of the city have expressed their support, and the plan has the backing of constituency MP Caroline Lucas, who has blogged about it here

The share issue got off to a lively start Saturday 2 December as musicians and poets, headlined by Attila the Stockbroker, performed free in front of a packed house on a night that demonstrated conclusively what the pub is about – and why it needs to be kept alive.

If you want to help save The Greys, you can invest or donate at and support the campaign on Facebook at SaveTheGreysPub and on Twitter @Save_The_Greys.

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