Husband-and-wife team keeping Wigan pub on target

Graham Ball and Carol Kirk outside the Plough and Harrow in Shevington
Graham Ball and Carol Kirk outside the Plough and Harrow in Shevington

Our beer expert Andrew Nowell talks to the new owners of a popular watering hole in town...

A couple of familiar faces are back at the reins of a popular pub in the borough which definitely fulfils the time-honoured role of a watering hole being a community hub.

Landlady Carol Kirk has stepped in once again at the Plough and Harrow in Shevington after the pub’s owners left, having previously served as manager there for about eight years.

She and husband Graham Ball are now at the helm of the wet pub which is very much the heart of life in Shevington.

Carol says they are delighted to be running the place once more and could even be tempted to stick around longer if Thwaites’ search for new management is unsuccessful.

“It’s good to be back in charge. I just love the people, you won’t get a friendlier or nicer bunch anywhere. It’s very much a community pub.

“We love the pub so we’re happy to stay on and run it as best we can for however long it takes. We might even be tempted if no-one takes it on, but we will have to see!”

One of the Plough and Harrow’s biggest roles in Shevington is providing the base for an annual bike ride to Southport and back.

Celebrating its silver anniversary this year, the event put together by a dedicated committee of volunteers raises money for a local charity which helps families who have a child with disabilities or special educational needs enjoy quality time together.

In 25 years the cyclists have raised about £140,000, with each year usually bringing in around £6,000.

The charity is then welcomed down to the venue for a presentation night when the final total is revealed and the cheque handed over.

The Plough and Harrow is also the base of Shevington Sharks rugby league club but is well known to many Wiganers as a darts hub, having hosted Wigan Superleague in the past.

The current generation of arrow-flingers can be found stepping up to the oche on Monday nights while competing in the Up Holland League.

Keeping a watchful eye over proceedings is Graham, a former tungsten stalwart at the pub who is no longer to be found landing trebles and doubles but instead contents himself with working the cellar and helping out behind the bar.

Carol says the work going on behind the scenes is crucial in a pub which does not offer food.

She said: “The cellar is Graham’s domain. He cleans the lines every week religiously. When you’re a drink-only pub the beer has to be top notch.”

There are two cask ales available at the bar, ever-popular golden session brew Wainwrights providing the regular ale and a rotating selection of guest beers, including some limited edition ones, appearing alongside.

Elsewhere on the bar the changing drinking tastes are being reflected in the loss of Shipyard ale to bring in Kingstone Press Cider’s wild berry to go alongside its standard apple drink.

There’s also Pravha, a light-tasting pilsner from Staropramen, Foster’s, Guinness, Thwaites’ dark smooth and German beer Kaltenberg.

Although the Plough and Harrow clearly has a long-established recipe for success, Carol a nd Graham are also making some small changes.

They have started introducing live acts once a month, with upcoming performers including a well-known local singer and a sax-and-vocals duo.

With the building having been constructed in the early years of the 20th century the Plough and Harrow is also in need of a bit of a spruce-up.

Carol said: “We’re just getting the place up to spec, having a few repairs done and sorting little things out.”