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Wedding venue owners take on the village pub

A village is looking forward to a local pub reopening its doors next month, bucking a general trend in the industry.

The Knot Inn in Rushton has been taken over by the owners of Heaton House Farm wedding venue and is expected to be open before Christmas, although a date has not yet been confirmed (writes local democracy reporter Richard Price).

Villagers said they were “thrilled” to have a pub opening after the recent closure of the community-owned Royal Oak pub at the junction of Sugar Street and Leek Old Road.

They said the Heaton House Farm owners had a good reputation locally and the hope was they would bring their high level of service to the Knott Inn.

Steve Connolly, (69), said: “It was a great pub and we used it a lot, going back 20-30 years.
“We know Heaton House is good quality, so we’re hopeful the Knott Inn will be back to its best.

“We’ve missed it – it was our local and there was a good vibe going.”

He said the pub had opened and closed several times over the years under different owners and he hoped there would now be a bit more stability to its tenure.

He added: “The community owns the Royal Oak but that closed, so it’s looking for a new landlady or landlord.”

Coincidentally, the Royal Oak was also briefly run by Heaton House’s owners during lockdown when it operated as a takeaway.

Phil Allen, (62), thought the pub would do well with walkers as well as locals when it opened. The pub sits on the end of the old railway line running to Rudyard Lake and Leek, a popular route for walkers and cyclists.

He said: “The village needs it, because there’s very little to get the community together.
“It’s a good set-up, it’s got a lot going for it – there’s outside space, inside space, the restaurant.

“The track’s there, there are people walking seven days a week, so there’s plenty of trade, you’d think.

“It’s an expanding village with more houses being built but there’s no facilities, so, it saves travelling.

“The Royal Oak has been opening and shutting for two or three years so there’s no regular place to go to meet people.”

Carol Stevenson, (74), was hopeful people would support the new venture as its owners were “hardworking and well-known to people in the area”.

She commented: “We’re happy that it’s opening, we know the people that are doing it, so hopefully they’ll make a go of it, and it’ll be great.

“My husband is disabled, so we don’t go out that often – but if it’s like we expect it to be then we will visit.

“I hope people support it. They ought to. We need the pub back. We’re quite happy, I think you’ll find most people in the village will be.

“They work hard, they deserve it to be a success. My daughter got married up there (at Heaton House Farm).”

A post on the Knot Inn’s Facebook page said: “After a few setbacks, we are full steam ahead for reopening in the next few weeks. The draught taps and ale pumps have been installed. We are looking for just a couple more people to complete our team.”

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