The manager of a pub in Swindon is on a mission to turn the well-known drinking hotspot into a family-friendly space.

Barry Chapman from Stroud took over as manager of The Sun Inn, on the edge of Coate Water Country Park, in May 2023 and arrived with plenty of experience and big dreams.

Despite the huge potential of the place, which boasts Swindon’s biggest beer garden and car park, The Sun Inn had a bit of a rough reputation when Barry took over.

“It used to be a big boozer place, especially at the weekends. Since I joined in May last year I’ve been focussed on trying to turn it into a family-friendly pub,” explained Barry.

“I have my children myself and so being a family man, I wanted it to be a place where families can come and bring their kids as well.”

Swindon Advertiser: Barry Chapman is a much-loved character to all the regulars.Barry Chapman is a much-loved character to all the regulars. (Image: Newsquest)

Barry, who is a friendly face to all the customers, was encouraged to take on the pub by his younger brother Gareth Chapman who runs The Riverside pub in Lechlade.

“As soon as I knew I was going to be taking over as manager here I had all the cogs working in my head thinking what can I do with this because there was so much potential. We’re one of the first places you see when you come off the M4 into Swindon,” he explained.

“It was a bit of a rocky start with the type of heavy-drinker clientele we had coming in but now it is finally starting to come together and we’ve got some lovely people coming in.

“We’re hosting some great family-friendly events and really getting stuck into the community by helping charities.”

Swindon Advertiser: The pub has Swindon's biggest beer garden.The pub has Swindon's biggest beer garden. (Image: Newsquest)

As well as hosting events such as live music nights, bouncy castles in the beer garden and ‘rock and roll bingo’, The Sun Inn has also become a regular home to paranormal investigators.

“The pub is located in a very old premises that used to be a blacksmith’s shop which remained until Arkell’s bought the pub in 1891,” said Barry.

“The first paranormal night sold out in two days and then the second one sold out that very same day so it’s really popular.

Swindon Advertiser: The Sun Inn is one of the first things drivers coming off the M4 into Swindon see.The Sun Inn is one of the first things drivers coming off the M4 into Swindon see. (Image: Newsquest)

“They have come in and dug up a ton of research about the place’s rich history so we’re learning new things all the time. We are still incredibly proud of the Sun Inn’s history."

The Sun Inn has now become Arkell’s second biggest pub and with summer on the horizon, Barry hopes to continue building a family-friendly space and a name in the community with more charity days, events and festivals to come.