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Friday, 19 September 2014

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New landlords at Cumbrian pub owned by its customers

A new landlord and landlady are behind the bar at a Cumbrian pub owned by its customers.

Hewsket Newmarket pub landlords photo
Stephen Bennett and Beverley McKenna

Stephen Bennett and Beverley McKenna are now pulling the pints at the Old Crown at Hesket Newmarket, which became the country’s first inn to be taken over by its regulars nearly a decade ago.

The couple had never considered running a pub before but say they applied for the position because the bar is “so unique”.

“It’s a proper pub,” said Beverley, 44. “There’re no TVs, no gambling machines. Every time you come in you meet different people. It’s got a good atmosphere and the locals are great.”

Stephen, 48, from Carlisle, has been coming to the pub “on and off” for 30 years and Beverley has been a customer for the last six years.

He is a former joiner while Beverley, originally from Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, has worked in the NHS and as a doctor’s receptionist.

“It’s completely new to both of us, but everybody’s helped us,” she said. “The staff are excellent and they all know their jobs.”

Keith and Edna Graham, along with their niece, Jo Richardson, were behind the bar until last month.

The pub’s customer takeover nine years ago made it the subject of national newspaper headlines and attracted praise from Prince Charles, who has visited the pub twice in the past eight years.

Communities across the country continue to be urged to follow Hesket Newmarket’s example to save vulnerable village pubs from closure threatened with closure.

The pub is renowned for its beers from the adjoining Hesket Newmarket Brewery.

Landlords lease the Old Crown from its shareholders.

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