CAMRA runs the Pub Design Awards every year, in conjunction with Historic England. The aim is to recognise the highest standards of architecture in the refurbishment and conservation of existing pubs as well as in the construction of new ones. They are judged by a panel made up of CAMRA activists and experts in design and conservation.
As it involves judging works that have been completed, the awards had been decided before ‘lockdown’ came into effect and there was no reason to delay the announcement of the winners. Indeed, hopefully, this will give readers something to look forward to. It was, of course, not possible to present the awards face-to-face so it was done using CAMRA’s virtual pub, the Red (On)Lion on 7 May. Our congratulations go to the winners.
As usual, there are four categories as follows:
•Conversion and conservation (two awards)
•Joe Goodwin Award (for street corner locals)
NEW BUILD AWARD
This is not regularly presented so winning it is a particular achievement. It has gone to the Hall & Woodhouse which stands canalside in Peglars Way in Wichelstowe, south of Swindon, Wiltshire. As you may have guessed, it is owned by the eponymous brewery. It forms part of the Wichelstowe housing expansion and is an important asset for the emerging community. The design, which reflects Swindon’s industrial and railway heritage, features glazed drinking and dining areas in a canalside frontage designed to look like a terrace of traditional boathouses, with extensive covered outdoor space. It opened in February 2019.
The Plau is situated on Friargate, in Preston’s medieval quarter. It was originally built by a family of butchers and haberdashers in 1668 but, by 1795, it was a pub, originally named the Plough. The pub closed in 1913 and it was a shop until 2015 when it was acquired by Jeremy Rowlands, who owns the Meat & Drink Group which operates four other pubs in the area. The initial plan was to open a micropub but it soon became obvious that there was so much history present that, effectively, restoration of the original pub was possible. The main bar, formerly the shop, features bare wood floors, dark timber wall panelling and a marble topped bar. The gem however is the cellar bar with its herringbone brick patterned floor, bare brick walls and brick vaulted ceiling plus, in the centre of the floor, a well. This is safely covered with glass but visitors can still see the water below.
The work took three years and the Plau opened in November 2018. During the ‘lockdown’ it is running a local delivery service for bottles and draught beer.
There was also a ‘highly commended’ award in this category. It went to the Old Mill in Leek in Staffordshire which is a converted former textile mill with a bar on the ground floor and an open plan restaurant on the first floor. Both areas feature original Victorian brickwork and the décor is in what is described as a ‘Spartan but comfortable industrial style’. It is owned privately by local residents.
HISTORIC ENGLAND CONSERVATION AWARD
The Grade II-listed Zetland in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, was purpose built around 1860 as a pub cum hotel and was augmented in 1893 by the addition of a ‘luncheon bar’ at the rear, later called the Regent’s Bar. This featured a display of superb round-arched mirrors with surrounding tilework in cream, browns and light blue, together with an ornamented plaster cornice and frieze. The pub closed in 2015 but was rescued by Philip and Joanne Christie who in 2017 began a refurbishment. This included sourcing custom-made replacement tiles from the Staffordshire company that supplied the originals 120 years earlier.
The pub reopened in September 2018. Among the features to look out for are a mosaic floor in the entrance and the tiled ceiling with its octagonal centrepiece in the lobby. Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, commented, “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.” The pub is handy for the railway station and makes a positive contribution to Middlesbrough’s regeneration. The pub is properly known as ‘Christie’s Brasserie – The Zetland’.
There were joint winners for this award. The Farmers Arms in Woolfardisworthy (sometimes shortened to Woolsery), in North Devon, was a pub for most of its 300 year life until closed in 2012. Although Grade II listed, it became near derelict until rescued by new owners Michael and Xochi Birch. Their vision was to restore its unique character and return it to its traditional use. Modern additions were removed and the building returned to its historic layout, including recreating its original entrances, one of which is only five foot high! The roof was almost completely reconstructed and covered in locally grown wheat straw thatch. Local and traditional materials were used wherever possible throughout. It reopened in September 2018. It can be found in the centre of the village, which is near Bideford.
The other winner was the Peterborough Arms, which stands alongside the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal at Dauntsey Lock, between Chippenham and Royal Wootton Bassett, north Wiltshire. Originally a farmhouse dating from the late 18th Century, it became a pub, originally a free house then tied to brewers Wadworth from nearby Devizes. Wadworth disposed of it in 2013 and planning permission was granted for conversion to a private house, despite it being Grade II listed. At this point, happily, enter the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. Their interest was that the Peterborough Arms was one of only two pubs left along the canal.
They had the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and started negotiations to buy the pub, which, with help from a fundraising drive among the Trust’s members, they achieved in 2014. Restoration by some of the Trust’s volunteers began shortly after, with all rooms being refurbished, the cellar re-equipped and the car park relocated to create a canal-side garden. It is estimated that the volunteers spent some 10,000 hours on the project. The pub reopened in December 2018, serving a selection of local beers. There is a skittle alley which is used as a restaurant at weekends and in due course, three letting rooms will be added. For those visiting (in due course), the pub closes on Mondays and in the afternoon. It might be best to check their website before visiting: peterborougharms.com. Also note that Dauntsey Lock is some way from Dauntsey village.
JOE GOODWIN AWARD (BEST STREET CORNER LOCAL)
Situated in the lower part of the town (which gives you a reason to use the cliff railway), the Shakespeare Inn, in the Shropshire market town of Bridgnorth, has been thoroughly modernised but without losing of any of its character and warmth – literally, because the log fires have been retained. The bar has been relocated to create two separate drinking areas, new stained glass windows have been added, courtesy of owners, Joules Brewery from Market Drayton, and a new function room, the Boat House added. The name of the function room commemorates the pub’s long standing association with the Team Bridgnorth Rowing club who have contributed some memorabilia to both the pub and the Boat House. The River Severn is close by.
From a CAMRA press release
Editor’s note: canal enthusiasts may be interested to learn that the North Wilts Canal, next to which the Hall & Woodhouse stands, was opened in the 1810s to join the Wilts and Berks Canal to the Thames and Severn Canal near Cricklade. The Wilts & Berks Canal is under restoration and the Trust is building a visitor centre next to the Peterborough Arms. The other canalside pub mentioned is the Bell Inn, the Wharf, Lacock, which is also worth a visit. I’m not sure however if a towpath walk is possible.
The awards were mentioned briefly in BBC Radio Four’s News Quiz (8 May) when the panel discussed just how much people are missing pubs.