A pub once described as a ‘lost cause’ has now been named the best pub in Britain after taking the overall title at the Great British Pub Awards. The Great British Pub Awards showcases the wide variety and quality present in the UK pub scene, with an emphasis on excellence for pub goers all around the nation.
A new entrant for 2023, The Cholmondeley Arms, affectionately known to locals as ‘The Chum’, has been named Great British Pub of the Year and named number one ‘Country/Rural Pub’. Owners Tim Bird and Mary Maclaughlin attribute this double victory and the pub’s continued success to the team’s sheer enthusiasm and passion.
The couple own six pubs, previously described as ‘lost causes’ including The Chum and since taking it over in 2011, Tim and Mary have carried out significant restoration and refurbishment work to the former schoolhouse, creating the charm, character, and atmosphere the pub offers today.
Tim Bird, owner of Cholmondeley Arms, said: “After all these years together, it means the world. When we opened, I said we can be a beacon of hope for rural pubs but now we can be an ambassador as the pub of the year for Great Britain. For the team, this is just amazing. Helen [the pub’s general manager] has worked at the Cholmondeley for 12 years and she is the epitome of what our pubs should be. I am so proud.”
On what makes a pub of the year, Bird said consistency over a long period was key. Bird, who has been in the industry for 40 years, said he was “elated” to have won both the overall pub of the year and the rural categories at this year’s awards, but that all the finalists were “amazing”.
Ed Bedington, chair of judges for the Great British Pub Awards, said: “We’re delighted to be revealing the best pubs in the country. These businesses are pubs to cherish and support and I’d urge anyone to get out and visit these outstanding operations. We’ve recognised pubs of all types and characters, from community champions to high end food, entertainment focused through to pubs that embrace all the family, even the dog. These are the businesses that really set the standards for others to follow.
“Our overall winner, the Cholmondeley Arms, represents the pinnacle of all our winners – this is a pub that has a wow factor that impresses anyone that crosses the threshold. Impeccably run, this is a business that will offer a warm welcome to all visitors and give them an experience that will be impossible to beat.”
Despite the challenges the pub industry has faced in the last few years, this year’s awards have seen a record number of entrants, showing the continued high standards many pubs have been able to uphold.
Bedington continues: “The pub industry has undergone some significant challenges in the last few years, with the pandemic, followed by an energy crisis, rising inflation and a cost of living crisis on top – despite that, our winning pubs continue to adapt and flex to meet those challenges and continue to provide vital services to local communities, the opportunity for friends and families to gather and celebrate, as well as remaining key employers within the areas they operate. Pubs are part of the fabric of our society and these winning pubs are the ambassadors that continue to show the important role pubs play in our social and economic worlds.”