Blue Bell Hub Cocking
Introduction to the Share Offer from Hub President Philip Jackson
When Jean and I came to Cocking some 32 years ago, there were two pubs in the village: The Blue
Bell and the Richard Cobden or as it was originally known The Cobden Arms. We know that in 1867
the Cobden Arms applied for a licence, but was turned down by the Magistrate following an
objection by the Bell Inn claiming that the Cobden only sold 30 gallons of ale a year. The Cobden
Arms persisted and eventually gained a licence and remained in business until eventually closing its
doors some 20 years ago when the building was converted into a private house.
With the opening of the railways in the area and the anticipation of increased business around 1887,
the old Bell Inn with its thatched roof was rebuilt in its current form and the exterior has remained
substantially unchanged since then. For a short period during the 1980’s and 1990’s it was known
as the Potter and Vine after which it again became the Bluebell Inn; the sign board displaying the flower
rather than the church bell and as such it remained until it closed. It will now revert to the Blue Bell with
the church bell logo.
It is my contention that the bell, that the Bell Inn was named after, is the rare and very beautiful
medieval bell that hangs in the bell tower of Cocking church. Cast in 1420 and named ‘Sancte Johannis
Ora Pro Nobis', it is as perfect today as the day it was cast and hauled up the tower where it has
sounded over the village for the last 600 years. In medieval times the word blue signified truth,
strength and faith.
Two years ago, Simon, the last landlord, gave up the pub and after a passage of time the building
was bought by a developer whose intention was to turn the property into two houses. It was at this
stage that some of us in the village woke up to the fact that if this happened, we would probably
never have a pub in the village again. After well over 200 years this pub would disappear and it
would disappear on our watch. We strongly felt that something had to be done.
Paul and Linda have been talking for some time of retiring from the shop/PO so the chances were
that we would lose not only the pub, but also the shop and the Post Office and thus become just a
collection of houses divided by a main road. We risked losing our sense of community; the very
thing that many of us value about living in a village. Experts who have consulted about this predicament
warned that losing these services would devalue village properties by about 10%.
The Steering group formed to save the Blue Bell and create the Blue Bell Hub are incredibly impressive in
the enthusiasm, expertise and knowledge they bring to the task and by the hard work they are
putting in to ensure that the Blue Bell lives on in the heart of the village and its community.