Wigan pub runner-up in national competition

A Wigan micropub has been beaten by a boozer over the border in the contest to be crowned the best real ale venue in the country.

Wednesday, 28th February 2018, 6:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th February 2018, 8:00 am
Wigan Central

Wigan Central had to settle for one of the runners-up prizes in the national Pub of the Year competition run by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

However, the biggest prize in cask beer is heading to the North West after the Cricketers Arms in nearby St Helens scooped the ultimate accolade.

It was also a regional double as Camra’s club of the year prize was won by a venue in the Flixton area of Manchester.

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The Cricketers Arms in St Helens, Camra's national pub of the year

Railway-themed Wigan Central, located in the arches beneath Wigan North Western station, made it to the final four for the first time after winning a string of regional Camra awards.

The judges were impressed by the rolling rotation of a variety of cask and keg beers at the Queen Street venue and the quirky touches such as ticket windows bearing screens with live train departure times and statues of pigeons.

However, in the end the efforts of owner Prospect Brewery and the team led by manager Jo Whalley were not quite enough to see it crowned the country’s number one.

Instead it was the venue on the other side of Billinge Hill which capped an incredible turnaround after being boarded up just five years ago with the national title.

The Cricketers Arms in St Helens, Camra's national pub of the year

Run as a community pub the Cricketers Arms now has 13 cask beers, up to 20 ciders in summer and plans for its own microbrewery.

The national award is third time lucky for owners Andy and Denise Evans after two regional victories.

Andy said: “We are over the moon to be named the top pub in the country after just a few short years of renovations.

“We’ve done everything we can to make this a welcoming community pub and still have exciting developments ahead of us.”

Paul Ainsworth, Camra national Pub of the Year co-ordinator, said: “Andy and Denise have converted a pub on the brink of closure into a true destination pub for beer lovers across the country.”