Shropshire Star

The Shropshire village pub thriving with new ownership and a £250K refurbishment

As pubs continue to battle the cost of living crisis, the Shropshire Star continues its Love Your Local series which celebrates our local inns.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion Great Chatwell is a pub that is thriving under new ownership and management, after it reopened in April this year.

The establishment is owned by Kevin and Rachel Shaw, who live in the village, and it is managed by Sharon Fowles.

After undergoing a refurbishment that cost around £250,000, it opened at the end of April, and now word is getting out there about how great it is, it is becoming more and more popular.

Landlady Sharon Fowles

Sharon said: "I have worked in pubs before, and in particular I had a real ale pub before this and so I enjoy working with the public, I'm a people person.

"One thing that I like is that you meet people from all walks of life, and it makes things interesting.

"Since opening it has been really good and I didn't expect it to actually take off as well as it did.

"On Sundays we are now bookings only for Sunday lunch and don't allow walk-ins because it gets full.

"The pub opened at the end of April and then on Father's Day, we opened the kitchen and from there it has hit off - it is massively busy, especially Sundays.

"People love the food, and we have a range of options such as curry nights on Wednesdays, restaurant nights from Thursday to Saturday."

Phoebe Hill and Alice Runton

The pub was previously owned by Marston's but according to Rachel, it changed hands a lot during the six and a half years they have lived there and so they felt it would be a great opportunity to buy the pub when the opportunity arose.

Rachel said: "We have lived in the village for six and a half years and people have always told us about how successful it was back in the day, and during the time we have lived here, it was always changing hands as it could never get right.

"We feel that a village pub is important to family life here, as it allows you to spend time with family here, maybe after walking a dog or on evenings and weekends.

Barmaid Nicole Mack chats to customers

"So when it closed and went up for sale, we waited to see what happened and it was said to be turned into housing but that would have been a big loss for us and the village, and so because we love a village pub, we had two choices - move house or buy the pub.

"We're still here, so of course we bought the pub. We have never owned a pub before but my husband has worked in the care sector so he is used to buying properties but this was the first commercial one.

"We completed a full refurbishment of the place and you wouldn't recognise it now, it included knocking walls through, re-tiling floors, toilets being revamped, there isn't anything that hasn't been done.

The dining area

"We have more plans for going forward too in the next few years. I was a case of creating something wonderful for us and for the community as well, something for the village and locals to enjoy.

"It was poorly, sad and tired and all it needed was some love.

"The feedback since opening has been nothing but positive. People are so glad we have done it and they now have something to come to again, and they look forward to their visits.

"We have done our job and spent our money, and now we leave it to Sharon to run the day-to-day, and we developed it to a high standard because we know that Sharon can make it a wonderful place, she has done and will continue to do it with their wonderful drink and hospitality.

"Now with word of mouth, the reputation is growing and it is becoming a more popular place, with people visiting from neighbouring towns, cyclists or walkers that pass through the village pop in, and so it is running really well."

Donna and Mark Franklin

The management are passionate about real ales, and Sharon has made the decision not to serve big brand drinks such as Carling or other brands - the only big name they have is Corona but it is served on tap and not in bottles.

Sharon added: "I'm very passionate about real ales, we have seven hand pulls with four currently on, but I want to put all seven on.

"It is not your average keg products that we have here, it is drinks from independent breweries and it is what you want to find in a local pub.

"I absolutely love running the pub and I live upstairs too with my husband. It is so nice to wake up to the countryside, the village is a really nice place.

Waitress Olivia Sabin, chef Simon Williams, landlady Sharon Fowles and waitress Hermione Holland

"We have been able to build great relationships with people from the village, and they have shown fantastic support throughout.

"We are active in the community as well by sponsoring a Sunday League football team, a darts team and we are also starting a dominoes team at the pub, which helps spread the word."