A WIGAN businessman has saved The Fox.
But this isn’t an anti-blood sports victory, rather the rescuing of a neglected pub which is close to Tony Callaghan’s heart.
The 18th hostelry in the scenic village of Roby Mill had been falling into disrepair since it closed down two years ago. Indeed it is estimated to have been burgled and vandalised at least a dozen times since.
And pub chain owner Mr Callaghan, who lives in the area, couldn’t face it fall into rack and ruin.
So in partnership with Robin Park Developments boss Simon Woods, he bought it recently from Punch Taverns and work is now under way on a £200,000 makeover.
When it re-opens – either before Christmas or into the new year, depending on how work is progressing, it will be re-named Fifteens at the Fox and be added to Mr Callaghan’s growing Fifteens chain of pubs.
While it will be a food pub – The Fox’s menu was long an integral part of its business - the plan is to have a smaller premises than was there latterly.
It means that two cottages which were adapted as an extension to The Fox will now be converted back to their original use.
The new owners say they may also try to gain permission to build more homes on the current car park.
Meanwhile the work on the pub’s interior is already yielding some pleasant surprises.
Mr Callaghan said: “This is a building from the 1700s and we have already found an old fire place and the original bar surround which, with other original features, we will be making the most of.
“It is a grade II listed building and precious asset for Roby Mill.
“I live in the area and have been a customer there in the past.
“At one time it was thriving and then its fortunes went downhill and it had to close.
“But it was too good to lose. All it needed was some TLC.
“We have seen so many pubs shutting down in recent years that I didn’t want this one in particular to go the same way – that is being turned into houses.
“It doesn’t need to be as big as it was, and it would not survive selling drinks only.
“But Roby Mill – which used to have six pubs (or in those days coaching houses) when it was on the main horse and cart route – needs it to be part of its community.
“I think it will complement The Star which is the village’s other pub.”