A village pub described by the couple who run it as “a lovely locals’ local” and “a typical boozer” is thriving at a time when hundreds of UK pubs are closing.
Locals Daron and Lynn Grant took on The Walnut Tree, in Deeping St James, near Peterborough, nine-years-ago.
And Lynn said she has ‘fallen in love with it all over again’ following a £43,000 facelift by NewRiver, the specialist leisure and retail property company that owns more than 600 community pubs across England, Scotland and Wales.
The husband-and-wife team took on the Horsegate pub after it had been closed for five months, and because Lynn wanted to work for herself. She and Daron have experience in the hotel, bar and hospitality trade, and used to help run the local BT sports and social club alongside other volunteers.
Daron still works as a telecoms engineer.
The couple added £5,000 of their own money to NewRiver’s investment, which together has paid for external repairs to the pub, new signage and interior redecoration.
Lynn said: “In 2008, the pub, which has always been a typical boozer and which was our local, closed for five months. Like everyone else in the village, we were devastated, and had to find somewhere else to drink and to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
“We approached the pub company that owned The Walnut Tree at the time, and when it became available in February 2009 we were interviewed, and reopened it a week later.
“It had started to look a bit tired, recently, and needed to be refreshed. NewRiver have done over and above what was expected, and I’ve got a lovely new pub. I’ve fallen in love with The Walnut Tree all over again. We stayed open during the work, so customers could see progress each time they came in, and we’ve had a really positive reaction from them.
“We open at 4pm, and get tradesmen popping in for drink on their way home, which has created a network of builders, plumbers, electricians; then later in the evening we have the local professional people who live in the village.
“It’s a lovely locals’ local, and with so many around the country closing, The Walnut Tree is proof that wet-led pubs can survive and thrive. Running a pub is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s great fun, and you meet so many interesting people.”
The only food provided for customers is hand-held snacks – pizzas, sausage rolls and pasties – for customers to eat while watching live football via Sky Sports and BT Sport.
The Walnut Tree, which dates back to the 16 th century, is home to no fewer than 10 darts teams, two quiz teams, and supports a local football team. It also organises days out to the races and hosts gigs by local bands.
David Shipton, corporate development and strategy director for NewRiver’s pub portfolio, said: “Daron and Lynn have shown that traditional pubs, used mainly by people wanting just a drink, do have a future.
“They have worked hard to ensure The Walnut Tree remains the focal point of a village community, and as result it’s thriving. NewRiver is absolutely committed to supporting publicans who are themselves determined to keep great community pubs this like this open.”