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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Campaigners prepare to celebrate pub reopening

A community that helped to prevent its pub from being developed into
homes will be able to enjoy a drink back in the local tomorrow (Friday).

Regulars at the Coach and Horses, in Timbersbrook, will be raising a glass at the reopening after it was bought and refurbished by villager Cedric Stonex, heralding a new era for the popular watering hole.

Following the “Fair House’s” closure during the pandemic in 2020, owners Robinson’s brewery put it up for sale.

Within months it had been bought by a developer who submitted a planning application to build two homes in its place, to the dismay of residents.

The plans were opposed by many, and a campaign was launched to declare the premises as an asset of community value, which meant that the pub could not be sold without the local community being given an opportunity to bid for it.

Within a day of the status being granted by Cheshire East Council, developer Dominic Bardsley withdrew his planning application.

Campaigners were jubilant, even more so when Mr Stonex, who lives in Timbersbrook with his family, decided to buy the premises and reopen the pub.

The Coach has been completely refurbished inside and now Mr Stonex, who owns Carlisle-based handcrafted bags firm Chapman Bags, is looking forward to welcoming customers back to their beloved local tomorrow.

It will be for drinks only to begin with, followed by a full food menu in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the Coach’s reopening Mr Stonex told the Chronicle: “We are finally in a position to open on Friday at 3pm and could not be more excited. We have hired a fantastic management team, Curtis Fleming and Josh Stephens, who will be running the pub day to day, and we are already confident that they will make a success of it.

“Curtis is front of house management and Josh is a fantastic chef who will be serving up some great pub classics.”

He also mentioned those that have worked on the pub’s refurbishment and the campaigners who fought to save the pub.

“We would like to thank the fantastic local builders A&S Long who have turned it around in record time and with no stress at all,” Mr Stonex said.

“We also need to thank all those who worked hard to stop the building being developed into residential property and helped to place the ACV on it. There are too many to mention them all.”

He said the pub would “aim to focus on quality rather than quantity, serving local ales and lagers paired with locally sourced food” adding: “We want to create a friendly atmosphere and for everyone to feel welcome whether they are just popping in for a pint or taking the family out for a meal.”

One of the Coach’s regulars Belinda Long, who lives nearby, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled that the Coach is reopening. It has been a huge community effort and so many people have done so much.

“Loads of people have been asking when it is reopening, people have already been knocking on the door!

“It will not only be welcomed by locals and the Coach’s old regulars, but it will do well out of passing walkers and cyclists. We understand there’s going to be more tables outside so customers can enjoy the amazing view.”

Jane Lancaster, whose great grandparents ran the pub in the 1850s and whose family still farm the surrounding land, said: “Everybody will be really pleased to see the Coach open again, so many people have been asking about it.

“The situation with rising energy prices is difficult for pubs but I think people will want to go and support the Coach and make sure it stays open because there was such a big campaign to save it.”

Although it is optimistic moment and a new era for the Coach, Mr Stonex did refer to impact of the cost of living crisis on the hospitality industry.

He said: “While the rising prices of energy and transport will affect us, we are confident that we can offer fair prices to our customers by keeping our offering concise and by working very closely with local suppliers.

“We will never compromise on quality to save a few pennies. A few logs on the fire won’t hurt either.”

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