‘Take a tour’ of the nation’s best-looking pubs
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As the nation’s pub-goers face uncertainty on the re-opening of our beloved locals, they are invited to ‘tour’ the nation’s best-looking pubs as CAMRA announces the winners of its prestigious Pub Design Awards.
CAMRA has put together a photo collection of this year’s winners, which include a canal side newbuild reflecting the architectural heritage of industrial Swindon, a Lancashire pub that has reopened after 105 years, a bustling tap-house in Shropshire and 150-year-old pub that was saved by the local community.
In line with current social distancing measures, winners will be recognised at an event hosted in CAMRA’s new virtual pub, the Red (On)Lion, by judges at 7pm on 7th May. To join the event and congratulate the pub owners and designers, simply visit https://theredonlion.co.uk/bar/join/Pub-Design-Awards to book a place.
Pub goers can digitally ‘visit’ the pubs by browsing the CAMRA library of the winners, available to view on Dropbox.
Winners this year include:
- The Hall & Woodhouse, Swindon (New Build Award) – Built as part of the Wichelstowe housing expansion, it occupies a prominent canal side site in the town centre and is an important asset for the emerging community.
- Plau, Preston (Conversion Award) – Originally built in 1668 as a butcher’s shop, it was converted into a pub in 1795 however it closed in 1913. It finally re-opened as a pub after a gap of 105 years in 2018.
- The Zetland, Middlesbrough (Historic England Conservation Award) – Originally built in 1860, it was painstakingly restored in 2017, which included sourcing custom-made tiles from the very firm that created tiles for the pub over 120 years ago.
- The Farmers Arms, Woolfardisworthy, Devon (Refurbishment Award joint winner) – having served as a public house for much of the building’s 300-year life, new owners have restored the pub its former glory, retaining its unique character.
- The Peterborough Arms, Dauntsey Lock, Wiltshire (Refurbishment Award joint winner) – Built as a farmhouse in the late 18th century. Having previously being declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and taken on by the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, six volunteers began work on its restoration in 2015. It finally reopened in late 2018, with volunteer hours in excess of 10,000!
- The Shakespeare, Bridgnorth (Joe Goodwin Award for best street-corner local) – a tap–house with beer truly at the heart, with preserved log burners and bespoke stained-glass windows adding to the pub’s character.
Also highly commended for Conversion was the Old Mill Bar in Leek, a former textile mill whose conversion saw the whole interior stripped back to the original Victorian brickwork of the former mill.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “In these uncertain and worrying times for pubs, we are delighted to be celebrating the stunning, eclectic range of architecture and design preserved in these institutions.
“Some of these pubs have been used in that capacity for hundreds of years, demonstrating not only their tenacity and endurance, but also the necessity of the pub to the British way of life. We hope that all will be able to endure the current crisis, and that patrons will be able to celebrate their achievement in person once the restrictions have lifted.
“We had a tough time narrowing it down to these six exemplary pubs – congratulations to them all!”
These awards are celebrated as CAMRA is underway with its #PullingTogether campaign, highlighting the initiatives pubs and breweries are using to keep themselves afloat during the coronavirus lockdown. Learn more at camra.org.uk/pullingtogether
Presentation Event: 7 May 2020 at 7pm, in CAMRA’s virtual pub the Red (On)Lion – visit https://theredonlion.co.uk/bar/join/Pub-Design-Awards
Images are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bcd6u1cw7bp7o61/AACWz6rPsGbaevJ64HPyAIP6a?dl=0
Winner: The Hall & Woodhouse Wichelstowe, Wichelstowe, Wiltshire
In 2019 Hall & Woodhouse opened their flagship venue for Wichelstowe, a developing new town to the south of Swindon. The new pub occupies a prominent canal side site in the town centre and is becoming an important asset for the emerging community. H&W Wichelstowe provides an all–day multi-occasion venue, serving award winning Badger Beer, Colourful Coffee and delicious meals.
H&W had the concept of evoking the story of a developing boat building enterprise through the architecture of the building. The intention was for the sequence of structural bays to respond to the imaginary development of the business, from its origins in a simple workshop through to a grander retail shopfront.
Glazed drinking and dining areas extend along the canal frontage in the manner of a terrace of traditional boathouses, with gabled roofs opening onto the water’s edge, forming an extensive area of covered outdoor space. The taller accommodation block references traditional canal side warehouses.
The form of the building also looks to reflect the architectural heritage of industrial Swindon, evoking imagery of the open trussed roofs of the train sheds and warehouses that are such an iconic feature of the town. The internals are a juxtaposition of industrial structure and soft furnishings, with walls adorned with local, boatbuilding, family and brewing heritage images.
In front of the glazed beer cellar sits a narrowboat that projects through the building where Guests can test their pouring skills at the self-serve beer tables. From summer days on the sunny terrace to wrapping yourself around a delicious pint by the feature log burners in winter, Guests can find a variety of spaces to suit their occasion.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “The New Build award is only awarded rarely, so it is a testament to the quality of the Hall & Woodhouse Wichelstowe that it has won! Mackenzie Wheeler Architects, the designers of the building, have drawn inspiration from the location, with a range of gabled roofs at the water’s edge evoking the canal side sheds which housed many a traditional boat-building and repairing business, and a taller accommodation block referencing historic canal side warehouses.
“The commitment Hall & Woodhouse make to individual, location-specific design is praiseworthy.”
Winner: Plau, Preston, Lancashire
Plau in Preston was originally built in 1668 as a butcher’s shop; by 1795 it was a public house.
Originally named the Plough Inn, it is situated on Friargate, which formed part of the medieval town of Preston. Its proximity is adjacent to the site of one of the three town gates and the ancient and formally important junction of Friargate and Fryars Lane (now Marsh Lane).
The building was constructed by the Chorley family in 1668 on the site of a previous unknown building. They were butchers and haberdashers by trade and it is thought that the building started life as a butchers shop. At some time during the next 100 years the building became a public house. The first written records of its existence are the bribes paid in The Plough Inn during the 1795 election to elect Lord Derby.
The Plough Inn continued to trade throughout the 19th century and had a varied and colourful history, gaining a reputation as an unruly house. It finally closed as a pub in 1913. Since 1913, the portion of the ground floor which fronts Friargate has been used as a shop.
In 2015, the structure was bought by Jeremy Rowlands, the owner of the Continental and Ferret pubs. The initial plan was to open a micropub in the shop portion, but once investigation of the building started, it became apparent that there was a wealth of history in the building. The team undertook a great amount of restoration of the pub. The former shop portion forms the main bar area, which is on a split level. With bare wood floors, dark timber panelling on the walls and a marble topped bar, it is hard to imagine that not long ago this was an empty shell. The highlight of this astonishing restoration is the cellar bar. A partly hidden set of stairs from the rear of the pub lead down to the Vaults. Here is a second small bar, with heringbone brick patterned floor, bare brick walls and brick vaulted ceiling. In the centre of the floor is the well, with a glass cover; allowing visitors to peer down into the depths at the water below. Lighting here is kept to a minimum, with dim wall lights and candles, providing a unique drinking environment.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “Jeremy Rowlands and architects/designers Loe Design have turned a disused and run-down building into a highly attractive pub, its refurbishment informed both by the known history of the building and by features uncovered during the work.
“It uses the long narrow plan and the height of the building to the full, from the vaults in the cellar – with its reopened medieval well – to the split-level ground-floor bar, with a more secluded room behind, and the dining room on the upper floor, with its open roof-trusses and boarded roof lining. All has been done with great care, and with quality materials. The result is striking – a traditional pub re-imagined for the 21st century!”
Highly Commended: The Old Mill Bar, Leek, Staffordshire
The Old Mill Bar is a full conversion of a former textile mill in the great pub town of Leek. The ground floor has been converted into a bar, on which you can find three real ales, 10 craft beers and five real ciders. The first floor has been converted to form an open plan restaurant where drinks from the bar are served at the tables on request. The whole interior has been stripped back to the original Victorian brickwork (which is in remarkably good condition) of the former working mill which made Leek famous and wealthy in a bygone age. Both floors are furnished in a Spartan but comfortable industrial style, with much use made of RSJ steel work, scaffolding poles, planks, reclaimed wood etc and fits in very well with the exposed brickwork.
The owner Nathan, a local resident, was so inspired at what was created in the nearby Earl Grey pub, which opened its doors in 2015 and became an immediate hit with local CAMRA members. The pub was voted local branch Pub of the Year, going on to become the Staffordshire County Pub of the Year and then West Midlands Regional Pub of the Year in 2016.
The Old Mill is regularly frequented by local members and is a great addition to what the great pub town of Leek has to offer.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “The Old Mill Bar’s owner, Nathan Walwyn, has demonstrated here the benefits of working with the building rather than attempting to impose pre-conceived ideas upon it.
“The team has converted part of a redundant textile mill into a bar with a great deal of character. The place has been refurbished in a Spartan but comfortable style, heavily influenced by the original use of the building. Throughout, much use is made of exposed RSJ steelwork, scaffolding poles, reclaimed woodwork, recycled industrial light fittings, and bare brickwork – something of a cliché in many bars today, but here it is entirely appropriate.”
Historic England Conservation Award
Winner: The Zetland, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
Built in around 1860 as a pub/hotel, an architectural focus in the Zetland is a spectacular lounge added at the rear in 1893, designed by local architect J. M. Bottomley for a private client and described as ‘luncheon bar’ on the earliest plans. It retains its superb display of round-arched mirrors with surrounding tilework in cream, browns and light blue, together with an ornamented plaster cornice and frieze.
After closing in 2015, Philip & Joanne Christie bought the pub and in July 2017 they embarked on a painstaking restoration which even included sourcing custom-made tiles from Craven Dunnill Jackfield – the very firm that created the tiles that adorn the walls of the spectacularly mirrored rear dining room over 120 years ago. The pub re-opened in September 2018.
A mosaic floor in entrance is now exposed. In the lobby hidden under a false ceiling was a splendid tiled ceiling with octagonal centrepiece and ornate cornice which is now exposed to admire. There are now two sets of inner doors in the entrance lobby. In the hallway leading to the rear room dado panelling has been added in the same style as that seen in the bar.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “Historic England, the sponsors of this award, stress the need to conserve the features which give a building its historic and architectural significance, while changes which will give it a viable future are carried out as sympathetically as possible. At its best, this philosophy of ‘constructive conservation’ means that it can be hard to spot the join between what is original and what is new.
“At the Zetland, owners Philip and Joanna Christie have carried out a careful refurbishment of a magnificent late Victorian building, which had become rather run down in recent years before closing altogether in 2015. Later intrusions such as false ceilings have been removed, revealing original features such as the tiled ceiling in the lobby with its octagonal centrepiece. Replacement tiles were sourced from the original makers, Craven Dunnill Jackfield, to replace those which had been damaged or lost from the rear extension of 1893, with its splendid tiled and mirrored interior. New features, such as the bar counter in the front bar, have been introduced, but they have been carefully designed to be in keeping with the original. Opposite the railway station, the Zetland now forms an impressive centrepiece of an area at the heart of Middlesbrough’s regeneration.”
Joint winner: The Farmers Arms, Woolfardisworthy, Devon
The Farmers Arms in Woolfardisworthy was bought back from disuse and disrepair by new owners Michael and Xochi Birch, with the help of Jonathan Rhind Architects.
Initial archaeological assessments of The Farmers Arms suggested that it had served as a public house for much of its 300-year life, before the last pint was pulled in 2012. While many pubs around the country are being converted into housing, the Birch’s vision was to see it restored to a working pub, conserving the use it was originally designed for and retaining its unique character as a historic building. The historic layout was retained in refurbishment and restored in areas where the team removed modern additions. They also re-established the original entrances, even though one is only five foot high!
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “After purchasing this Grade II listed building, owners Michael and Xochi Birch commissioned Jonathan Rhind Architects to repair and update the near-derelict pub, a very simple vernacular building, without grand fixtures or fittings. They saw that its value lies in its historic fabric, its traditional materials, and its contribution to the streetscape.
“The architects’ approach was to retain as much historic fabric as possible, maintain the historic layout of the building, and ensure that any additions were sympathetic in design and materials. The project included almost complete reconstruction of the roof and its re-covering in locally grown wheat straw thatch, much repair and replacement of timber and cob, and demolition of an unsightly 1980s extension and its replacement by a simple contemporary structure, including a ‘corrugated iron’ roof as used on so many local farm buildings. The result is a pub which is once again at the centre of village life.”
Joint winner: The Peterborough Arms, Dauntsey Lock, Wiltshire
The Peterborough Arms started out as a farmhouse in the late 18th Century. After over 150 years as a free house, local brewers Wadworth bought the pub to add to their portfolio. In 2013, it was placed on the market, with planning permission for conversion to a private house in April 2013. As this pub was one of only two left along the Wilts & Berks Canal, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust placed an ACV on the pub. After some months of negotiations and a fundraising drive amongst Trust members, the pub was transferred to Canal Trust ownership in mid–2014. Originally, a core of six volunteers started on the pub’s restoration in April 2015, although this grew as refurbishment went on. The project had professional help from Allstar Construction in Startley and from Malmesbury.
All rooms on the ground floor and the cellar were extensively refurbished with sympathetically restored floors and lime mortar to the walls, consistent with the Grade II listing. The cellar walls were stripped, a new stillage created, pumps overhauled, and new beer lines installed. A cellar cooling system was obtained and installed, together with replacement cellar curtain to keep the casks cool. Externally, the carpark was swapped to the other side of the pub and a canal side garden created. All external woodwork and the walls were re-painted and new signage installed.
The pub opened again in December 2018 and is trading successfully, having built a reputation for good ales, food and attentive staff. Three letting rooms are still to be refurbished – currently, the volunteer hours that have gone into the project are in excess of 10,000.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “Refurbishment work on the Peterborough Arms was performed by a small group of volunteers lead by Dave Maloney, working with professional assistance at key points of the project. They have achieved a great deal, with over 10,000 hours of volunteer time committed to the project – such dedication highlighting the importance of pubs to communities!
“The building has been extensively refurbished, with modern bathrooms, cellarage, food storage and preparation facilities installed, all while retaining the feel of a simple country pub. Even the skittle alley has been retained, doubling as a restaurant at weekends. Set in newly landscaped grounds, the Peterborough Arms is now a popular destination for its quality ales, its food and its canal side location.”
Joe Goodwin Award (best street corner local)
Winner: The Shakespeare, Bridgnorth, Shropshire
The Shakespeare in Bridgnorth is a tap house with beer truly at the heart. The pub is home to cosy snugs and great events spaces, with the new Boat House and internal courtyard maximising flexibility and accessibility.
Work on the pub was started in early September 2017, moving the bar from the side of the dining room to a central position within the pub, creating a lounge bar and then a public bar. This movement allowed the beer to really sing from the heart of the pub and create a brilliant community atmosphere.
The scheme was all about giving the Shakespeare its character and warmth back, preserving the log burners already in place and ensuring they were focal points throughout the pub. The addition of bespoke stained–glass windows commissioned by owners Joules Brewery adds a touch of timeless detail to the pub’s character, and hopefully which will be preserved for years to come. The nod to rowing in the pub is a signal of the Brewery’s close partners on the Severn in sponsored Team Bridgnorth Rowing club, whose pots and winning oars can be seen throughout the tap house and predominantly in the newly restored function room the ‘Boat House’. They also invested heavily in slip tile bricks from Stoke on Trent’s finest, HE Smith, and laid reclaimed parquet flooring to add depth and character to the wonderful room. Bespoke doors were crafted by Eddie Chapman-Smith to fit the size and open perfectly to accommodate functions within the Boat House.
The Shakespeare is adorned with new signwriting celebrating Salop Ale heritage; this was penned by local sign writer Andy Fields who enjoyed his first fully-fledged project with Joules in Bridgnorth.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, said: “The Shakespeare’s owners, Joules Brewery of Market Drayton, worked with architect Marie Poole of Hall’s Holdings and have come up with a building which, whilst offering every modern facility, including an impressive function room, feels as if it has always been here, and has always been just as it is.
“All this despite the fact that the layout of the building has been changed considerably, with the introduction of new partitions to create intimate and comfortable spaces, and the removal of modern intrusions to be replaced by traditional materials and finishes, including specially-commissioned stained glass windows. Sited at the heart of a historic market town, this is a pub for meeting friends and acquaintances, for indulging in conversation and laughter, or just for watching the world go by. The late CAMRA Chairman, for whom this award is named, was a great enthusiast for, and champion of, pubs such as this, and it is a worthy winner of the award named in his memory.”
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CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 192,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.