Race is on as Victorian-style Shropshire pub seeks new owners

An opportunity has arisen to buy a Victorian-style pub in Ludlow – named after a Grand National winning horse.

The Blood Bay in Ludlow
The Blood Bay in Ludlow

The Blood Bay, named in honour of the mayor of Ludlow’s horse which won the famous Aintree race in 1932, was once a newsagents, but was transformed into a Victorian pub by current owner Jon Saxon in 2017.

The pub, which boasts a large selection of beers and ales including traditional recipes brewed by the landlord, has featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for two consecutive years and was Beer Accredited in 2018, as well as being extensively featured in international media.

It also has a loyal regular customer base as well as being popular with tourists, particularly during Ludlow’s festival season.

Jon, who had been set on transforming the building into a 1950s to 1960s pub until he discovered many layers of wallpaper going back to early Georgian times and late-Victorian shop fixtures and fittings at the start of the renovation process, said the pub is regularly at "bursting point" during the peak of the holiday season.

Owner Jon Saxon

He said: “It’s got a very loyal regular customer base, but also benefits from the tourist trade as well – especially during town’s food and drink, beer and Medieval festivals.

“When they are on, the pub is at bursting point and the locals love to tell the tourists about the restoration.

“Most people think it’s been around for 300 years and are quite surprised when they find out it used to be a newsagent and it’s only been operating as a pub for three years.”

Jon embarked on a lengthy renovation process to bring The Blood Bay to life.

He said: “We had to go through listed building consent to get it all fixed up.

The Blood Bay. Photo: hiltonsmythe.com

“We found an old doorway and landing, which we reintroduced, uncovered wood panelled walls and ceilings, and we matched the oldest layer of wallpaper elsewhere and mixed the original paint from scanned paint scrapings, so it’s pretty much as it would have been in the 1820s and 1830s on the ground floor.

“It’s got a very solid feel to it – like it’s been sitting there for years and years – it literally is like drinking in a pub back in the 1800s.”

Jon believes people appreciate the simplicity of a pub where they can simply talk and enjoy good beer with no other distractions.

After historic beer recipes from the 1800s were discovered behind a skirting board, Jon has taken to brewing his own beer and selling it in the pub alongside modern and real ales.

Although the new owners would have the option of continuing to brew the ales if they wished, Jon admits it’s quite an inefficient process compared to today’s techniques.

“The old Victorian beers are wonderful. They have quite a modern feel to them – but you can tell they are old recipes.

“The old way is not a very efficient way of brewing beer but it’s the way they were doing it back in the 1800s – and the results are remarkably modern.”

The pub is on the market with business sales advisor and finance brokers Hilton Smythe Group.

Gareth Smyth, CEO of Hilton Smythe Group, said: “We’re delighted to welcome The Blood Bay to the market, and we’re certain it will be a fantastic investment. It has a lot of character and is clearly popular with both locals and tourists.

“After a turbulent 18 months, people are keen to get back to pubs and enjoy their unique atmosphere. It’s an exciting time to be a landlord or lady.”

Jon, who previously enjoyed life as a motoring journalist and started a magazine about historical pubs in 2012 before renovating The Blood Bay, wants to sell the business so that he can focus on new publishing projects.

He said: “I would like someone to go in there and put their own stamp on it and will be very interested so see what the next chapter brings.”

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News