Co-op rescues village pub

The Hesket Newmarket Brewery co-op in Cumbria has re-opened the only pub in the village of Melmerby, the Shepherds Inn, after six months of closure.

The brewery is owned by 94 shareholders from Hesket Newmarket who bought the facility when its owners decided to retire in 1999. The village then formed a co-operative in 2003 to buy their local Old Crown pub when it faced a similar fate.

The brewery already supplies cask ales to 40 pubs across Cumbria and sells bottled beers to an increasing number of specialist outlets around the county.

However the Shepherds Inn is the first new pub venture the brewery has taken on. It will offer up to six of the co-operative’s award winning ales at any one time, becoming a second showcase alongside the Old Crown.

The re-opening marks a first for pub company Enterprise Inns, which has leased the Shepherds Inn to the co-op free of its cask ale tie.

This arrangement, Hesket Newmarket Brewery believes, may be the first of its kind for any national pub company and represents an innovative way forward for rural pubs.

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