By George - classic movie inspires a pub's launch

Darren Cooper and Michelle Ragozzino outside Formbys in Hindley
Darren Cooper and Michelle Ragozzino outside Formbys in Hindley

The new owners of a Wigan pub hope they are in the fast lane to success with a venue built around two wheels and an entertainment superstar.


Business partners Darren Cooper and Dave Holt have reinvented the former Hockery Brook pub in Hindley as Formby’s, a celebration of ukulele-wielding musician and actor George Formby and his film No Limit, set in the world of motorcycling.

The film was shot on location at the Isle of Man TT races and this is particularly apt as Darren is also a road racer planning to enter the iconic event next year after previously doing the Manx Grand Prix.

However, Darren is keen to stress that although there is some Formby and two-wheeled memorabilia dotted around the Wigan Lane premises it is definitely not a "biker pub" but is a venue for the entire local community.

Having already taken on a pub in the village of Much Hoole near Preston and being about to get the keys for a city centre venue, Darren says the opportunity of adding Formby’s to his and Dave’s business portfolio was too good to pass up.

He said: "When the opportunity arose we jumped at it. We thought it needed a bit of work but we like turning places around and we’ve now got a good team in place.

"We decided to loosely base it on George Formby because I’m quite a fan of him. My favourite film of all time is No Limit, where he does the TT races, and that’s something I’m linked to as well.

"Everybody is welcome here, I certainly don’t want it to be thought of as just for bikers or anything like that. We want it to be a warm, welcoming pub for the community.

"We do have the racing logo painted in the pub and we’ve got a few bits of bike and George Formby stuff, but we don’t want to put anyone off."

The two entrepreneurs, trading in the pub under the name of Dave’s business Holt Pub Co, faced a six-week race against time to get the place ready for opening.

Although the pub is hoping to appeal much more widely than just petrolheads and film buffs Darren says he will be happy for local bike groups to use the pub’s large car park as a meeting point and start and finish place for rides.

The pub, which is run on a day-to-day basis by landlady Michelle Ragozzino, has already introduced live acts on a Saturday night while the search for a darts team to move in is under way and plans for a food menu are in the pipeline.

Formby’s will also be run as a freehouse not tied to any brewery, with four cask ales, eight draught beers in total, ciders and an extensive gin list.