Exciting changes for famed Wigan pub

Pete Clark behind the bar
Pete Clark behind the bar
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A Wigan pub has marked the start of an ambitious new future by transforming its famous pool room into a new craft ale bar.

The John Bull Chophouse’s pool room has been the stuff of legend for decades, the location for many an interesting story among reminiscent customers.

The old pool room

The old pool room

But the space has now been completely gutted to make way for The Hop House, a new bar area serving up new craft and cask ales for those keen to expand their palates.

With a decor consisting of reclaimed timber combined with the room’s original features and a generally industrial vibe, landlord Victoria Clark Victoria hopes the new feel will offer exciting drinking atmosphere.

“It looks amazing, I just love it,” she said.

“It’s better than I ever thought it would look. We really wanted it to look funky and ‘now’, but without losing the John Bull feel, because it’s a 500-year-old building and a bit of an institution.”

John Bull Chophouse

John Bull Chophouse

And the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, Victoria revealed.

She said: “I couldn’t have asked for better feedback. This was a real risk, because so many people had so many memories of the pool room. “But I think we managed to get the balance right and not upset anyone.”

The bold move also came as a bid to increase the amount of craft beers that the pub was previously able to offer.

“We knew we wanted to do lots of cask and crafts, but we wanted to do it in our style, not in a traditional way.”

She added: “Some people have said we’re going down the hipster route.

“It’s not the hipster route, it’s the John Bull route.”

The Hop House, Victoria hopes, will entice a new clientele to the John Bull, without intruding on the enjoyment of its regular customers, who might have held concerns that the music and atmosphere of the pub was about to change.

She said: “We really hope to see new faces. We have such a reputation for our music, and there’s a big market for cask and craft. I think we’ll attract more people because it’s such a movement - people will come in looking for particular breweries.”

Victoria added: “So many people have preconceived ideas of it (the pub), from the ’80s when it was full of bikers. But we hope for of a lot of young people to come in and say ‘oh my god, we didn’t even know this was here’.”