SkyWave Radio UK

Your Station Your Way!

Current track

Title

Artist

Current show

Current show


Real ale pub with open fire named best in area after teacher took over

Written by on January 16, 2022

A former teacher saw his first pub named the best in the region 15 months after taking it over.

The Red Lion, in Wheelton near Chorley, was crowned Pub of the Year by CAMRA’s Central Lancashire branch this week.

Landlord Richard Roberts told LancsLive he was “buzzing” to pick up the award after being honoured to even make the shortlist.

READ MORE: Countryside pub walk through historic Lancashire village with 600-year-old cobbled bridge

The Blackburn Road pub, offers a range of real ales sourced by owner Phil Entwhistle and Richard says the key to success is offering good beer and a welcoming atmosphere. It is also dog-friendly and features a large open fireplace as part of its offering.

After working at bars, mostly rugby clubs, during his days as a student, Richard embarked on a career in teaching which he ultimately left due to stress.

He took a sales job and began working in the pub three days a week as payments did not come from that job as expected and instantly felt at home. In September 2020, he took over the management and is now joined behind the bar by his wife and two children.

Landlord Richard Roberts at the Red Lion pub in Wheelton
Landlord Richard Roberts at the Red Lion pub in Wheelton
(Image: James Maloney/LancsLive)

Richard said: “I took a job three nights a week running the bar for Phil. I’ve always wanted to run my own business so I asked him to consider me if the lease ever comes available.

“It flooded in the second week and then it was lockdown in after week six.

“But actually lockdown was really good because we renovated all the inside of the pub. Then with Phil we did the outside and that’s made it into the pub it is today.”

After an unusual route into running his own pub, Richard is loving his new career and was delighted to receive the recongition from CAMRA.

He said: “Phil taught me how to look after the beer, how to treat it and then I took it from there.

“The secret of the success is the good beer and making people feel welcome.”

Food including fresh pies is homemade at the Red Lion by young chef Owen Hodgkinson and the pub served Christmas dinner last month on top of its regular events such as fish and chip nights. It also has occasional live music and now brings in a curry chef once a fortnight but remains a wet-led pub.

Unlike many which are increasingly reliant on food, Richard estimates that drinks account for around 80% of the pub’s takings, with real ale alone covering 60%.

The Red Lion pub in Wheelton
The Red Lion pub in Wheelton
(Image: James Maloney/LancsLive)

That focus and quality attracted the attention of the CAMRA members who rate such pubs during secret visits.

Richard said: “I was speaking to the chairman of CAMRA, he said we’d got into the last six. To be honest, I looked at the list and I was happy to just be in the six.

“When we found out we’d won, well ‘buzzing’ would be the right word.”

Praising his staff for making it such a welcoming place, he said: “They work really hard. The customers really like them and that makes a big difference.”

To keep updated, follow Discover Lancs on Facebook and @LiveLancs on Twitter.

Have you got news for us? Contact our what’s on and tourism writer on denise.evans@reachplc.com

Get all the latest what’s on stories sent to your inbox daily with the Discover Lancs newsletter here.