Try the new CAMRA Experience. We’re excited to introduce our newly revamped website designed to enhance your journey through the world of beer, cider, and perry.

Try the new site

192,559 CAMRA members

Press Release


Britain’s best-looking pubs unveiled

CAMRA announces the winners of its prestigious Pub Design Awards


 CAMRA has just unveiled the winners of its prestigious Pub Design Awards, which aims to recognise the most stunning feats of architecture, design and conservation in British pubs across the country.

There were five winners across different categories ranging from refurbishment to best ‘street corner local’, and three additional pubs highly commended in this year’s awards.

This year’s winners are:

  • The Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis for a refurbishment project described as a ‘labour of love’ by Palmers Brewery which brought the tired and dated seaside inn into the modern era

  • The Royal Pavilion in Ramsgate for the conversion of a dilapidated pavilion to a bustling seaside pub by Wetherspoons

  • The Slaughterhouse in Guernsey for the inspired conversion of a historic slaughterhouse into a unique and distinctive pub in the hub of St Peter’s Port by R W Randall

  • The Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent for Joules’ Brewery’s tasteful conservation of the historic tap house dating back to the 1800s

  • The Cardigan Arms in Leeds which was saved from closure by Kirstall Brewery, which turned around the pub’s fortunes

Pubs that were highly commended this year include:

  • The Sekforde Arms, London for its restoration after nearly 200 years of serving pints

  • The Butcher’s Hook, Thornbury which was left empty and derelict before significant investment brought the former butcher shop back to life

  • The Draughtsman Alehouse, Doncaster which was transformed from a disused storage area into a bustling micropub on platform 3b of Doncaster rail station

CAMRA will be celebrating the achievement with a presentation event today at the Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent, which won the Historic England Conservation Award and will host the ceremony this year. The event is open to the press and will take place on 23 May at 12 noon.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “This year’s judges have selected an eclectic range of buildings, ranging from a 6mx4m micropub on a bustling railway platform to a vast seaside pavilion to a former slaughterhouse. What all these buildings demonstrate is that it is possible to fight back against what is sometimes seen as a trajectory of inevitable decline, using imagination and good design. The awards are clear evidence Great British Pub is indeed alive and kicking.”

The celebration takes place just days before the launch of CAMRA’s Summer of Pub campaign over the bank holiday weekend, which aims to promote pub-going over the warmer months and celebrate the contribution of the Great British Pub to our heritage.

Presentation event: Coopers Tavern, Burton-on-Trent on 23 May starting at 12 noon

Images are available here:

The winners

Refurbishment category

Winner: The Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis

The refurbishment project kicked off in 2015 when Palmers Brewery decided that the tired and dated Pilot Boat Inn needed a total rethink to bring it into the modern era. At the time, the Inn was comprised of a modest pub with a large function room and skittles alley, which was very underused and disconnected from the pub area.

Working with design agency Concorde BGW, Palmers put together a plan to retain the charms of the old pub as ‘a refuge for patrons of all ages on a cold wintery night’, whilst creating a fresh and modernised space for warm summer evenings and pub lunches. A newly built restaurant and open kitchen were created which was tastefully connected to the pub area by utilising reclaimed ship timber and a new bi-folding glass wall to create an ‘inside-outside’ feel. With views out to sea and a nautical theme, the Pilot Boat has become the perfect place to retreat after a long walk on the beach or a meal in the bar.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “Palmers brewery has transformed a small, rather run-down pub into a modern, exciting place for the twenty-first century. Their architects have gone all out to maximise the use of the site, including an external, first-floor terrace from which you have views of the sea.

“What really impresses is the use of good quality finishes such as the lovely dark blue tiles in the gents’, the oak casing of the piers in the front bar, the rustic character of the bar counter, and – especially – the restrained, non-cliché look of the references to things maritime (when it would have been all too easy to overdo it here). No doubt this will long be a thriving watering hole for visitors to the magnificent Jurassic Coast.”

Highly commended: The Sekforde Arms, London

The pub, which has been in operation since 1829, remained open without a break for 176 years until it was temporarily closed for a much-needed re-development, repairs and restorations in 2015. Architects Chris Dyson and Associated worked with the Magnificent Basement Company Ltd to carry out the redevelopment work to restore the pub to its former glory – capturing all the charm of a late Georgian Pub whilst offering the very best in modern facilities.

The Sekforde stands at the confluence of two historic and unspoilt early 19th century streets in the heart of Clerkenwell London. The historic building has been tied to a beautiful new extension by a striking glass atrium and the artist Anthony Eyton RA has crafted a beautiful quadriptych which hangs on the far wall of the atrium.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The refurbishment has transformed this handsome late Georgian building inside and out, returning it to restrained elegance and respecting its early nineteenth-century origins. The bar downstairs is refreshingly uncluttered, with plain wooden panelling and bare floorboards. Unlike many pubs where keg fonts dominate bar counters, the keg dispensers at the Sekforde are confined to the ends of the counter. A charming mural depicting Sekforde Almshouses of 1587 in Woodbridge, Suffolk, dominates the wall at one end of the room and ground source heating and cooling means that the pub uses roughly 15% of the energy of a conventional pub of its size. All in all the pub has been refurbished in a very sensitive way.”

Conversion to Pub Use category

Joint Winner: The Royal Pavilon in Ramsgate

A striking example of seaside architecture, this Grade II listed building had been one of the most at-risk Victorian/Edwardian buildings in Kent. It was built in 1903 as a Concert Hall and Assembly Rooms and later became a casino, however, it fell into serious disrepair following its closure in 2008. Reminiscent of Kew Gardens from the outside, both interior and exterior have been skillfully smartened up thanks to designer K D Paine & Associates Ltd. The pub also boasts fantastic views across the sea.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The pub has an extremely majestic look. In order to maximise space for drinkers and diners, there is a mezzanine balcony with railings which leads to an outside terrace which affords wonderful views. This project would no doubt have seemed too daunting for most pub companies but Wetherspoon’s have literally picked a winner here.”

Joint Winner: The Slaughterhouse in Guernsey

Originally built in 1887, the Slaughterhouse is a protected building occupying a prominent position on the town seafront. It served Guernsey for over 125 years as a slaughterhouse until 2013 when it was snapped up by R.W. Randall Ltd who owns a series of hotels, pubs and other businesses throughout Guernsey, and who recently celebrated their 150 year anniversary.

The Slaughterhouse reopened in mid-2017 with the help of local architects Tyrrell Dowinton Associates. The finished design artfully retains the historic features of the Victorian slaughterhouse and visitors can even see the yard where the animals were tethered. Within the main building, a gallery allows customers the view at close quarters the dramatic roof structure built by town shipwrights and can look down on the serving areas. It is also the winner of the Heritage Award at the 2018 Guernsey Design Awards.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The Slaughterhouse’s unique and distinctive design has made it an iconic landmark. Right by the harbour in St Peter’s Port, customers can gaze out to sea from the gallery and the raised outdoor area. It is clear that quality materials and finishes have been used throughout, bringing new life and purpose to a landmark historic building. It is a worthy winner of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award.”

Highly Commended: The Butcher’s Hook, Gloucestershire

The former butcher’s shop dates back to the mid-17th century and boasts a Grade-II listing, however, it has since been transformed into a clocks/antique shop and then later an Indian restaurant, before it was left empty and derelict for two years from February 2016 to August 2018. The building was in a poor state and required significant structural modifications to turn it into a functioning pub, including an extension to the back.

The existing trade areas were redecorated as sympathetically as possible. The removal of the chipboard flooring revealed an old flagstone floor and many period features such as the butcher’s meat rails and hooks have been left in place. A brand new bar counter was built to serve eight real ales and five keg lines from and traditional, antique furniture was brought in. The revival of the pub made it the first new pub to open in Thornbury in the last 150 years.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The simple presentation of the interior uses original features in a way that attracts the eye. The landlord, Peter Tiley, with the owners Sir George and Lady Joanna White have resisted the temptation to over-elaborate, with the result that the conversion is very sympathetic to the Grade II listed building.

“It is apparent that great care has been taken to retain original features such as the screen partition between rooms two and three, original flooring, a sunken wall cupboard, and the meat hanging rails on the ceiling and hooks on the walls from the butchering days.”

Highly Commended: The Draughtsman Alehouse, Doncaster

What was once an unused 6mx4m unit filled with general clutter at Doncaster rail station has been innovatively transformed into a bustling micropub on platform 3b, while still showing off its many original features.

With the help of local historian Peter Tuffrey, licensee Russ Thompson looked through archive pictures to establish a style that would be both practical and sympathetic to the 1900s origin of the area. Corner seating was installed and a typical cafe barrier system was introduced to serve the pub’s three cask and five keg beer lines.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The Draughtsman is the first micropub to make an appearance at the Pub Design Awards. The careful restoration of original features such as the Victorian tiling gives considerable character to what is a very small bar. Modern fixtures and fittings such as the bar counter and the wall shelving behind it have been deliberately designed to be as simple and basic as possible so as not to compete with the original ones. A very attractive melding of old with new, it is well worth missing a train to experience the Draughtsman.”

Historic England Award for Conservation

Winner: The Coopers Tavern, Burton-on-Trent

The Coopers Tavern operated as both a brewer’s house and a malt store and was the shopfront for Bass Imperial Stout in the 1800s. Over the years, it became the Brewer’s tap for Bass brewery and opened its doors as a public house.

When Joule’s Brewery took over the ownership it decided to carry out the careful refurbishment of a pub which has long been seen as an institution in Burton, but which had become rather run down through regular changes in ownership and management. The simply furnished interior of the historic pub has been conserved with appropriate materials and finishes, and the opportunity has been taken to expand into previously private spaces and create a couple of new rooms which share the character of the originals.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “People sometimes assume that ‘conservation’ simply means ‘preservation in aspic’. However, Historic England, the sponsor of the award, has long advocated constructive conservation where the features which give a building its special character are retained and conserved, whilst changes which will give it a viable future are carried out as carefully and sympathetically as possible.

“This has been done to very good effect at the Coopers Tavern. The introduction of a ‘proper’ bar counter, which might have been expected to dismay lovers of a pub which has only the tiniest of counters in the historic tap room, has been handled with great care whilst new public rooms have been created from private accommodation in a way which is totally in keeping with the historic core. A very worthy winner of this award.”

Joe Goodwin Award (best street corner local)

Winner: Cardigan Arms, Leeds

A substantial late Victorian pub, the Cardigan Arms was designed by Leeds architect Thomas Winn and boasts an impressive multi-room interior. However, it has struggled in recent years due to lack of investment and a changing demographic in the area. It was saved from closure by Steve Holt of Kirkstall Brewery who decided to acquire the building and refurbish it.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The Cardigan Arms, it must be said, is anything but ordinary, although it is on a street corner. The work here has been done with great care, using historic colour schemes and matching historic finishes. The pub has truly been restored to something approaching its former glory, whilst subtle changes, such as the introduction of a wide range of real ales and a brief but well-chosen menu to draw in customers from well outside the immediate area.”