BAYDON’S Red Lion pub has been saved from certain closure by tenants-turned-owners Mark Farrell and Julie Wyatt, who bought the pub this week.
The pub was previously owned by a private pension fund made up of 20 people, who had formal plans in place to build a dwelling on the pub’s car park.
Such a move would have killed the pub and deterred any passing trade from stopping, according to Mr Farrell, who, along with his partner Ms Wyatt, had been leaseholders at the establishment since March 2013.
The pair were approached by the pension group at the start of this year, with its intentions for the car park, after which time they began putting together a bid to buy the pub and secure its long-term future.
“We knew when we took on the premises we assumed with a seven-year lease they wouldn’t do anything until we had finished,” said Mr Farrell, 58.
“They approached us in January this year. They were going to build on the car park.
“There are 20 people involved in the pension fund and each member had to agree with that price.
“The problem is it would have rendered the pub useless. If it goes into decay the owners would change it into a house rather than let it continue as an eyesore.”
Once the pair had taken the pub on in March they spent three months renovating it before opening up for business on June 1 last year.
It has been a long road up to now, during which time they have slowly attracted more and more local custom back through the boozer’s doors.
Mr Farrell said the news the couple had become the new owners of the property on Monday had been met with positive reaction.
“It’s been a positive experience. A lot of local people have come back into the pub. It had been closed for nine months and a lot of local people had dispersed to other places,” he said.
“They were approachable because the thing has had such a chequered history over the past few years they were fearful it would close.
“There was a positive response to the fact we were taking it on.”
Mr Farrell is originally from Meath near Dublin. He moved to Bristol in 2000 and began working in the pub trade there for Bath Ales.
He and Ms Wyatt, who met at a party in Bristol, now have plans to turn the pub into a bed & breakfast with three en-suite bedrooms available to travellers.
They are hopeful the venture will secure the long-term profitability of the business, with no other guest accommodation available five miles either side of the pub.
There will be an official takeover party at the pub on August 9 where live music and a buffet will be laid on for revellers. It starts at 7.30pm.