Owned by Star Pubs and Bars, the Black Horse in Lower Heswall will emerge from its stable once again tomorrow.
The new licensee is called Carl Burleigh, who has over 25 years’ experience in the licensed trade.
The reopening is good news for the village which, in common with Heswall itself and the rest of the country, has been feeling the pinch of economic uncertainty and consumers’ changing habits.
The steep ascent from the Black up School Hill leads to the Dee View Inn where landlord Darren Broxton recently called time on his 17 years of service there – last weekend, staff and customers gave him an affectionate send-off.
Now those staff and customers are in the dark as to precisely what happens next, though the good news is that, contrary to rumour, the Dee View will remain open. The pub’s owners, Star’s rival, the Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns, told Heswall Today: “We can confirm the current publican at the Dee View Inn will be leaving following the end of his agreement. We would like to reassure the local community that the pub will remain open with a new operator, who looks forward to welcoming both existing and new customers.”
Like many pubs, the Black Horse and Dee View Inn will operate against an uncertain background. In common with the high street the pub industry is not what it was. Late last year 18 British pubs were closing every week. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said there were 476 closures in the first six months of 2018 alone, 13 more than in the last six months of 2017.
The figures also revealed that the North West of England was the hardest hit region. In the first six months of last year more than 60 pubs shut up shop.
Camra said the high cost of drinking out meant more people were choosing to drink at home. In addition, young people are also consuming less alcohol, with 16 to 24-year-olds less likely to drink than any other age group.
Given that around a third of the cost of a pint is taxes and duties it is small wonder that the local, for so long an intrinsic part of our surroundings whether urban or rural, is an increasingly endangered species.
As the Black Horse prepares to reveal what appears to be a new gastropub guise, with food provided by ‘Nouvelle’, we’ll have to wait and see if the Dee View Inn is also steered in a different direction.
While it can be very true that ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’, consumers rarely shop or drink in particular places out of simple loyalty or local passion. What is on offer has to be something they really want, perhaps a little different, and pitched at the right price.
A toast to the Black Horse and Dee View Inn. We wish them well.