Credit: The Argus
Thousands of pubs and bars close their doors for good every year. For many, this is a sad, but not unheard of, event, and they simply move on to the next closest establishment. For others, it means more. A gathering location was shut down. This is the plight residents of Bevendean were faced with when the Bevendean Hotel closed in 2010.
For being so close to the tourist center of Brighton, one would think that Bevendean would be a thriving little town, but it is quite the opposite. The forgotten area has made a name for itself as “the dodgy bit of Brighton,” but isn’t just a sketchy side of town that should probably be avoided at night time. Bevendean is one of the most deprived 3% in England. As a result, its citizens are provided with poor health and education resources.
A Dying Community
Over the years, the community slowly watched many local centers suffer a fate similar to their last beer garden pub. A general practice surgery and an adult education center were shut down. The local park nearly met the same fate. Their schools have big budget cuts planned. “You’re not seen—so you don’t matter,” Helen Jones, a Beveden local says.
It was Helen Jones and friend Warren Carter that decided enough was enough. Their community was slowly but surely dying, and they were determined to put the pieces back together. The pub’s poor reputation for unruly behavior caused potential investors and brewers so shy away, but Jones and Carter were unafraid. The “stubborn pair” went to every meeting they could in hopes of raising funds from some of the richer citizens of Brighton. The parish vicar, Father John, was the one who saw how breathing a new life into the pub would be beneficial to their now isolated community.
Coming Together to Create Change
In 2014, the Bevendean Hotel opened its doors once more, but with a revitalized name—The Bevy. The pub didn’t open with expensive and chic renovations, fancy cocktails, and gourmet food like many of the tourist-based pubs in Brighton. It was solely through the work of the community that anything got done.
With help from Father John, the Bevy committee raised (pounds symbol) 200,000 in grant money, but it wasn’t enough to fix the glaring issues no cellar, toilets, or ceiling brought. It was the people who came together to make this work. The beer garden tarmac fell off the back of a truck and was installed with the help of volunteers. The actual bar was donated by a man who had recently closed his own pub. A local artist designed the logo for free. Even still, when the pub runs in to problems, community members come together to fix it (but not without a pint, of course).
Certainly, the Bevy is not the prettiest pub. It is, however, a vastly important one to Bevendean. The pub serves as a community center for people of all ages. People stop by for lunch, meet in the garden to cure a green thumb, and stop by for a pint on their way home from work.
The story of the pub is reminiscent of the story of the very town it resides in. It was worn down and rough. Law enforcement and local government didn’t think it could ever be brought back to a brighter light. But stubborn and determined hands came together to make something beautiful. A stronger community has been fostered within their walls.
“Before, it was just that dreadful pub up the road,” Johnathan Woolven, a regular says. “Now I’m proud of the Bevy.”