Local people asked us to do something about the empty run down buildings on the street. After a lot of hard work we set up Nudge as Community Benefit Society in September 2017, we quit our day jobs and bought The Clipper in November, it was a pub that was well known as a 24 hour destination and has been standing empty for several years.
Over 8 months and with a great group of volunteers, we renovated the ground floor to create a café and mini market area. There were of course highs and lows and a lot of late nights during this time. Some lovely and funny things that happened where:
- The beautiful mosaic bar top collectively made by our volunteers, especially volunteer Ian
- Volunteer Tony restoring over 15 holes in the ceiling and Doug who used to run the pub getting involved every week to do a bit of painting
- Hannah & Lizzie ripping the urinal out and re purposing it as a planter outside
- Only having one working socket for 5 months
- Replacing the old dark wooden porch with a new glass one
- Putting up new flags on the front of the building and the Falstone inspired mural
- Finding a cupboard filled with 500 beer bottles
- Flooding the kitchen the night before we opened
- Getting really familiar with our drains and Union Streets problems
- Framing the mural that was painted in 1948 ‘Friday night on Union Street’ and connecting with the artists family
It opened in July 2018 and was a place for people to test their food business and small shops in a safe and low risk way. We worked with the fab PCC environmental health team to support tenants and connected them up with the social sector in the city. Early day pop ups ranged from a clean food café by lovely local resident Lizzie to yummy Eritrean food. In January 2019 No Whey – a Mexican plant based food business, moved in after they held a fair the month before in The Clipper. They needed a more flexible solution as a small business. No Whey where based for a year and a half in the space and in that time they, experimented with their offer, solidified their menu, became a CIC, ran 6 markets filled with local sellers, had the chance to speak to a range of people including policy makers and successfully applied for funding and business support programs.
The Clipper has had a range of events and activities in the last 3 years, like a marriage proposal, book launches, Christmas carolling and a lovely massage business operating. Local organisations and our partners have done takeovers like Plymouth Collage of Art, Food Plymouth, Theatre Royal Plymouth Project X, Fairtrade Plymouth, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, Diversity Business Incubator and quirky illustration fairs filled The Clipper with really talented students and creatives.
While the ground floor was open and active, we were busy getting two one bedroom flats that were affordable and specifically for single parents ready. This came from conversations at Union Corner with single parents who were struggling to connect with their children again while they lived in shared and unsafe accommodation.
We did this by working with our community and in a way that invests in our community every step of the way. Plus our community shares enabled local people to invest and have role in what we do as members. In 9 weeks we raised over £204,750 to pay back our loans we took to buy the building and carry out the refurbishment.
We had loads of amazing support from 165 local investors, Plymouth City Council, the Rank Foundation, Bright Solicitors, Bailey Partnership, RIO, the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Plymouth College of Art, and our local community to make it happen- thank you.
Covid-19s affect on hospitality like many businesses meant food vendors No Whey and Green Gal Goods left The Clipper to focus on their families and how they do business. In December 2020 Omnium Radio took on the lease for the ground floor to run a music hub and community café, check out what they do here!
Local spaces, local spend, local skills and local love.
Read some of our media coverage here:
February 2018 – Herald update on the Clipper
April 2018 – Nudge in The Guardian