Victoria pub in Newcastle given a new lease of life
A DERELICT pub which has stood empty for more than five years is finally set to reopen after a complete refurbishment.
The Victoria, on King Street, Newcastle, has been snapped up by Shropshire based company Caldmore Taverns.
The firm, which already operates Darcys in Fenton, the Sutherland Arms in Stoke, Brennans in Kidsgrove, and the Wheatsheaf in Northwood, plans to reopen it by the middle of this month.
With a history that dates back to the early 1860s, new landlord Dave Griffin, aged 48, is hoping to recapture the pub's place in the lives of locals.
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He said: "We want to emphasise that this is going to be a local pub, employing Newcastle people and, where possible, serving locally sourced food.
"We're working with local breweries to bring Staffordshire ales in, and we'll be rotating these on a regular basis so we can promote everything that the area is known for."
Tens of thousands of pounds have been spent on refurbishing the property, which boasts a bar made out of two dressing tables from Whiston Hall Golf Club, and an antique grandfather clock.
Dave added: "We're not just focusing on one type of person with The Victoria, we want it to be somewhere local workers can get a bite to eat or stop in and do some work with a coffee.
"Lots of publicans complain that the smoking ban has ruined the pub trade, but I've always seen it as a chance to reinvent what a pub means to people."
Owner Debbie Bird, said: "The most important thing for people to know about us is that we're here to stay.
"This isn't a flash-in-the-pan enterprise. We are invested in this for the long run."
Local tradesmen have been employed to carry out the refurbishment, and Dave and Debbie hope to employ up to 10 further people in the future.
The reopening has been welcomed by Mervyn Edwards, of the Potteries Pub Preservation Society, who said the historic building had advertised itself in the 1860s as a 'good coach house' with stable accommodation for three horses.
He said: "I never expected The Victoria to reopen as a pub, so this news is pleasing.
"I used to drink there before it closed, and it was never a ostentatious place. Newcastle has become a dire place for pubs, and there's often very little going on in the week. This is a very good thing for the pub scene.
Lucy Scott, aged 22, of Heath Street, said: "People like a local pub and I always think locals cause less trouble in places like this, so it's a bit nicer for everyone.
"It's good to see pubs opening up, and there's not a lot of competition around here so it will fill a gap."
Emily Sadler, aged 23, lives in Fenton, but works nearby.
She said: "You don't really see pubs opening anymore, so it's good news.
"I expected to see it being turned into some sort of housing, as that seems to be the case everywhere else – not that anyone can afford new houses."