Wigan pubs raising a glass as more prepare to reopen

Watering holes across the borough will be welcoming their first customers through the doors for months on Monday.
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Indoor seating for a pint will once again be available from May 17 after a month in which pubs have had to serve people outdoors.

The consensus seems to be that Wigan’s pub scene has come through the months of shutdowns and restrictions relatively unscathed, with only a couple of venues closing their doors for good.

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Wigan Camra chair Sandy MotteramWigan Camra chair Sandy Motteram
Wigan Camra chair Sandy Motteram
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There is, though, a palpable sense of excitement as venues across Wigan prepare to begin pouring the drinks once again.

Wigan Camra’s online guide to which pubs are opening when shows that a number of well-known and popular venues, including The John Bull Chophouse in the town centre, The Delph Tavern at Orrell, the Bird i’th’ Hand at Hindley and The Hoot in Standish, are all preparing to welcome customers back on May 17.

And others have opted for a slightly delayed start and will have the doors open once more at some point next week.

The Twisted Vine Ale House in Ashton, for instance, is planning a May 20 reopening.

The team outside the Tap 'n' Barrel in Jaxons CourtThe team outside the Tap 'n' Barrel in Jaxons Court
The team outside the Tap 'n' Barrel in Jaxons Court
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Wigan Camra said it was good to see that fears the lockdowns would lead to a raft of places permanently shutting had not been realised.

However, the organisation also warned it was too early to say that the industry’s problems were over and said the support of residents was vital.

Wigan Camra branch chairman Sandy Motteram said: “There aren’t many pubs I’ve heard of that have closed down for good, I think there’s one in Roby Mill and one in Parbold.

“Some pubs will be opening on May 17 and some will be opening later that week, perhaps on the Thursday or Friday.

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“It’s all about being able to guarantee footfall with the rule of six inside. There are still space issues that really tiny pubs might struggle with, but this is all paving the way towards the full reopening and lifting of restrictions in June.

“This is a challenging situation for everybody. You’ve got pubs who haven’t been open for months who are having to do all the cleaning, putting in place things for the indoor restrictions and making it safe for everybody. You’ve also got all the publicity and marketing.

“The best thing people can do is vote with their feet and wallets and go to spend money in these businesses and support them.”

As well as pubs opening their doors for the first time many will be able to accommodate more customers from Monday as their indoor space is used once again alongside the outdoor seating they have been running for the past few weeks.

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One pub which has had to wait until now and is eagerly awaiting Monday’s reopening is the Tap ‘n’ Barrel in Jaxons Court, whose owner Paul Wood spoke about what has been an extremely difficult year for the industry.

He said: “We’re glad to see people coming out again. We can’t wait to see all our customers and get them back.

“Every business has suffered loss of earnings and we have been closed in Wigan longer than many others because we had the Tier 3 restrictions and then went into lockdown.

“There’s no doubt about it the Government funding and furlough scheme has helped. We’ve furloughed our staff and looked after them through all this.

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“We did quite a bit of work after the first lockdown and now the pub looks good and is ready to open. I can’t stand walking into the pub and seeing it empty, it should be full of people.

“I think people are getting a bit fed up of being sat outside in the typical English weather. The feedback we’re getting is that they’re looking forward to pubs being open indoors again.”

Paul also says it is not just the jobs related to brewing and serving beer or other drinks which the sector supports.

He said: “We’re a music venue as well and we’ve got artists booked in every weekend until 2022. I’m a big believer in supporting music and they have really had it rough. It’s not just about us opening, we’re also able to look after musicians who have been very loyal to us.”

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To view Wigan Camra’s guide to pub reopenings visit https://sites.google.com/view/wigan-camra-pop-up/pubs-reopening?authuser=0

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