Pub aims to put Hodnet on the map after £2 million refurbishment

The new couple behind a Shropshire village's historic pub are hoping to bring it back into the community after a major refurbishment costing more than £2 million.

Martin and Mel Board at the Bear Inn in Hodnet
Martin and Mel Board at the Bear Inn in Hodnet

The Bear Inn, at Hodnet, near Market Drayton, has long been a staple of the village, including when it was a coaching inn where people would stop off for rest and a bite to eat.

Mel and Martin Board want to re-invigorate this concept for the modern day and are working in partnership with the Hodnet Estate, which owns the pub, in order to bring it back into the community.

The pub has undergone a more than £2 million refurbishment and Mel and Martin said they are excited to finally open up and welcome locals and visitors alike.

Mel explained: "The pub belongs to the Hodnet Estate, and back in September 2019 the leaseholders left and the estate decided to keep it but do the pub up because it was very tired.

"Tom Heber-Percy, from the estate, this is his project. We also own the Haughmond Inn at Upton Magna – it was practically derelict before. The estate want us to do the same thing we did there at the Bear Inn.

"It's just about giving it back to the village really and putting Hodnet on the map again."

The Bear Inn in Hodnet is reopening after a major refurbishment on July 29

Aiming for a focus on locally-sourced food and produce, the couple are hoping to show off what Shropshire, and Hodnet, have to offer.

"We are growing our own Hereford Cattle nearby and working with the horticulturist at Hodnet Estate to grow fresh fruit and veg," Mel said.

"We also have an edible garden growing with soft fruits and herbs that the chefs will be able to come out and use in dishes.

"The pub is going to be very geo-thermal and self-sufficient. Our offering will include a 20-mile menu, so every single component is from within 20 miles of the pub.

"The Haughmond is fine dining but at The Bear, it will be more affordable with locally-sourced produce. A lot of people might be thinking, well if they have spent so much money on the pub, it won't be for us, but we say we over-deliver on expectation and under-price.

"We have got a really experienced and strong management team and are employing lots of local people. It's very exciting."

Steven Freeman, chairman of Hodnet Parish Council, said: "The Bear Inn has long been part of the community and has been missed while it was closed. We greatly appreciate that the estate has committed to keeping the pub within the village.

"To undertake quite an expansive refurbishment to keep it as a centre of the community, is just great. The revamp looks great and there’s much better outdoor space. It will be great when it reopens."

Opening on Thursday, July 29, the pub will operate Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm-3pm for lunch and 6pm-9pm for evening food, and on a Sunday for lunch from 12pm-5pm

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