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The Hive step up to save Cheshire music venue De Bees.

The Hive step up to save Cheshire music venue De Bees.

The Hive Saving de bees

De bees is a music venue and night spot in Winsford that has staged likes of John Bishop, Alan Carr, Jason Manford and Russell Kane along with bands from the Levellers to Catfish and The Bottlemen, Cage The Elephant and artists like Paul Heaton. According to this month’s GQ interview de bees was Tom Walker’s first paid gig! It is also home to a well developed and thriving local music scene.

The board of owners EI Group decided recently that it was no longer for their estate and after 22 years of de bees were disposing of the asset on the open market. Winsford has already lost 7 pubs/venues to redevelopment in recent years, de bees is the last remaining performance venue so the community has decided to do something about it!

The Hive is a charitable community benefit society (CBS) that stages community events and festivals in the area working with college students on work experience who do everything under mentorship by local
professionals. As a CBS it is able to release community shares to help raise funds to purchase the building, EI group kindly agreed a price off market, accepted a deposit and gave us a window before putting it on the
open market. We have had a good start with cheques and online pledges hitting £30K within the first 5 days, but we have a long way to go to reach the £150K target, the remaining £150K funds required are
being secured through grants and social investment loans but are conditional on the success of the share issue. So all or nothing!

Grassroots music venues are closing all over the country, late last year a community in Bristol did what we’re attempting and saved their live music venue into community ownership, it’s early days and would be
a first around these parts! Such is the threat to grass roots venues The Arts Council released a new fund specifically to help such venues survive using National Lottery funds.

Winsford has suffered a lot over the years and has areas in the top 2% of deprivation in the country, we are not a rich community and need all the help we can get from the wider crowd who would like to see this
grassroots venue survive.

“Community ownership of pubs is a growing movement but still very early days, this is an opportunity for our community to do something noteworthy for itself and help change the fortunes of Winsford. To be revered as a trailblazing town would be a great start!”

“Over the last 20 years hundreds of charity events have raised hundreds of thousands at de bees, by saving the venue we are also ensuring local charities benefit from it’s facilities for generations to come.”

“For as little as the cost of a night out you can become a part owner and help protect nights out in Winsford
for ever!”

Just to let everyone know about our local community’s efforts to save the building known as de bees, the
owners recently decided to dispose of it but have granted the local charitable Community Benefit Society The Hive Live Ltd a window of opportunity to purchase into community ownership.

We want to save the venue from closure and its being sold on for redevelopment in the way The Swan, The Oddies, The Denbigh, The White Lion, The Bingo Hall and now The Golden Lion have been in recent
years. Winsford needs places for the community to meet and socialise if we don’t act now the town will lose de bees too, the only performance venue left in town. have until the end of May to raise the funds necessary to purchase.

There have now been over 100 communities around the country who have successfully purchased their pubs into community ownership in order to save them from redevelopment we hope The Hive is successful and is able to operate the venue for the betterment of this community for generations to come.
The building was originally known as The Cock Inn and operating before Winsford became Winsford! It became known as The Royal Oak before becoming The Bees Knees in the 1970’s then Chasers before
finally becoming de bees in 1997.

Aside from being a weekend nightspot de bees is an important venue; one of the best live music and comedy venues in the North West, the likes John Bishop, Jason Manford, Alan Carr and Russell Kane have all performed at de bees along with musicians such as Tom Walker who played his first paid gig at de bees and bands like The Levellers. More importantly it is the home to a flourishing music scene and creative community that has spawned bands like The Luka State and Deja Vega. Without de bees the scene in Winsford would die.

In the communities hands The Hive will run a seven day a week programme with something for all ages and tastes from gigs to bingo and dance to comedy whilst retaining the late night weekends that have kept
de bees popular for generations!
It will also become The home to The Hive’s projects and facilities such as recording/rehearsal rooms and student class rooms. Local students will benefit from work experience opportunities working in The Hive with mentors to run all aspects of the community festivals The Hive stages such as The OffCut festival, ThenFringe and the Salt Town’s Rally and a new internet radio station.


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Martin Moseley