£68,463.51 FUNDED

Community Café at the Old Ship

The Old Ship Inn Cawsand Ltd

To build a fully functioning stand alone community café, meeting place, community hub, for the benefit of the residents providing affordable meals and access to support services and social events at The Old Ship Inn.

Heritage site finally shipshape again.

In a Cornish village, a derelict site can be much sought-after for redevelopment, but not every site is repurposed for the advantage of the community. With the right team in place, however, even the most awkward location can become a beacon for change.

One such site was the carcass of the old Ship Inn, Cawsand. Described by Kate Fitch, member of The Peninsula Trust, as a “derelict burnt-out shell” that was not an attractive proposition for developers “due to the complicated site, heritage listing and neighbourhood plan which prevents new developments for second homes.” It was an uncertain prospect, but the Trust could see the potential and started work on the acquisition.

The Peninsula Trust engaged with the local community to buy The Old Ship, raising £137,000 in Community Shares.  But it’s not just current residents that invested. One California-based investor was inspired by his family’s heritage to support the cause. “His great, great grandfather had been the landlord of The Ship,” says Kate, “and he and his family travelled to Cornwall to visit our community café last summer. A good few cream teas were enjoyed that day!”

LEADER funding feeds families and dreams

After acquiring the property, the Trust turned to LEADER for help to “bring this derelict site back to life for our community,” as Kate puts it. And the funding made all the difference:“LEADER funded a permanent, fully functioning kitchen,” says Kate, “which allowed us to re-open as a community café and community space.We also created jobs and volunteering opportunities for local people.”

And the Old Ship is not just your average café: “We engage with a broad demographic,” says Kate.  “We host after-school art clubs, English lessons for Ukrainian refugees, board-game nights, fundraisers, pay-as-you-feel roast dinners and social events.” Community outreach has been an integral part of this project from the start, as Kate describes: “the sense of ownership local people have, from investing, is so important in bringing our community together.

The space is also bringing together members of the public with local businesses, who rent the venue for “things like pop up restaurants and craft fairs,” explains Kate. Like a modern assembly room, The Old Ship is evolving to meet the needs of the people of Cawsand; it has become, asKate puts it, “more than a venue, it’s a destination.”

And there is still more to do: “We still have a long way to go with our future plans for The Ship,” says Kate. “Ultimately we want to add a heritage centre, sharing the rich smuggling past of the village, and the living history of our local residents. We also plan to fully rebuild the upper stories and create affordable, social housing for local people who have been priced out of the market by second homes.” Tackling these challenges is the mission of The Peninsula Trust, but Kate and the team feel ready:“All this will take time, but, thanks to LEADER, we have alreadymade the first step.”

To find out more about The Old Ship Community Café, Cawsand, go to

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