Just 12 months ago, the future of Barnoldswick’s last traditional pub hung in the balance as it was sold to developers and locals feared it would become flats.
But with the determination of campaigning customers, the Greyhound was sold to a syndicate who pledged to preserve its standing in the community.
A year on, the owners are not only celebrating their first anniversary, but two of the shareholders have begun an exciting venture alongside the pub.
Landlord Don Hinchcliffe and syndicate member Chris Storey have teamed up with experienced brewer Mark Harrison to set up Barlick Brewery, the only micro-brewery operating in Pendle and a first for the town. They are set to officially launch their first brew, Barlicker Bitter, on January 12th.
Chris, a former police and licensing officer, explained: “We always said we should start a micro-brewery because we love real ale. After getting the pub we approached Mark for help setting something up then decided to do it together. He has the experience and has various recipes for different palettes.
“We had a tasting session before Christmas where we presented Barlicker Bitter as a guest ale but not letting anyone know so we could get an unbiased opinion. Everyone loved it and it was gone in a few hours. We’ve also a barrel brewed to take to the Pendle Beer Festival in February.”
Welder Mark said he is excited to have turned a brewing hobby into a serious enterprise and has high hopes for the Barlicker Bitter.
“So far the response has been really positive. It is a bit of a trial with the Greyhound customers but if that goes well we will be looking to get it into other places, like the Cellar Bar.”
Landlord Don said running the Greyhound as a real ale pub has been crucial to its hugely successful year.
“Real ale is the only way you’ll do anything with a pub,” he said. “You get pinned down with breweries but for us there is no middle man now. It has been a great year.”
“I was a tenant for 10 years and the better you do the more they put the rent up. You have to do everything through the brewery and buy everything through the brewery. They don’t know what the locals are like and what they want to drink.”
Of his arrival in the town from Manchester, Don said: “It cost £65 a week in rent back then but by the time we left here it was £400 a week. You can’t pay that and run a pub. It wouldn’t even support two of us. Now it is ideal; it is brilliant.”
In September, 2010, the Greyhound was sold to developers in the same week that landlords Don and his wife Angela had completed the sale of their house to try and help finance the business. They were given just a week’s notice to move out.
Residents and regulars immediately started up a Facebook campaign to save the pub and petitioned councillors and Pendle MP, Andrew Stephenson. The campaign proved successful and developers ADM Designs agreed to sell back the pub and car park to the 11-strong syndicate.
Don said: “We only asked people to invest what they could afford. Most people thought we would just tick over but with everyone’s support we are doing very well and have blown the plans out of the water. It is not rocket science; it is a proper locals’ pub and we are now getting people in we never saw before.”
The Greyhound has already picked up an award from CAMRA for “Most Improved Pub of the Year” for 2011, and with the Barlicker Bitter’s imminent arrival, the future isn’t so much bright as pale and malty.