New chapter for pub going back to novelist tribute

Ian Williams
Ian Williams

England’s most famous novelist will once again be commemorated in Wigan as the new owners of a popular pub announce they will revert to its original name.

Dochertys, in Swinley, will soon be known as The Charles Dickens once more after it was bought by Traditional Outrageous Pubs, a company owned by The Griffin Hotel landlord Ian Williams.

The owners will embark on a history-themed revamp (perhaps unsurprisingly given the choice of new moniker) with the ultimate aim further down the line being to re-open the bedrooms on the upper floor for overnight stays.

Dochertys has become known as a popular music venue, particularly on Sundays, and Ian says this will continue but be supplemented by performances on Friday evenings.

He hopes to turn The Charles Dickens into a place which will be popular in the late afternoon and early evening, especially given the restaurants close by on Upper Dicconson Street.

He said: “We want to provide something for people leaving work and having a few drinks. A lot of people now work on Saturdays and they would rather go out for drinks from when they finish work on Friday afternoon until about 9pm or 10pm.

“It’s going to be a place where people can come to chill out and relax, and perhaps start an evening before going across to the Fat Olive for a meal and then come back for drinks afterwards.

“The intention is to take it back to its original form as a hotel, the same as The Griffin. The upstairs needs an awful lot of work but we do want to have at least six rooms available.

“It’s a nice place at the moment but we are going to change the bar and alter the feel of it a bit.

“We’re aiming for a slightly different market. I just have a good feeling about this pub, similar to that I got about The Griffin Hotel four years ago. I just think it’s going to be quite nice.”

The official takeover is scheduled for April 1, with the pub then shutting for several days for work to be done for throwing open its doors once more under the new stewardship of manager Adam Dickinson. An official opening event is currently slated for April 8.

The pub is a well-established part of the Wigan real ale scene as Al Branagan’s Mayflower Brewery moved onto the site last year, and Ian promises that Camra members and others who like their bitters, pales, milds and stouts will still find plenty to tantalise the tastebuds.

However, the plan is for two bars, with the traditional beer dispensers joined by a specialist set-up Ian describes as “whiskies of the world”, promising drinkers a wide array of single malts and blends from the Celtic countries and smooth bourbons from the USA and Canada.

Although the emphasis will be on whisky drinkers can still expect to see plenty of other spirits on the specialist bar.

Literature enthusiasts and those who’ve never read a page of Dickens will surely be able to drink to that.