There was standing room only when Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame, officially reopened its historic Rochester pub, The Royal Crown, following a stunning £1.2 million refurbishment this week.
The Shepherd Neame steam wagon brought some vintage cheer to the streets of Rochester as it chugged its way from the Historic Dockyard, where it is based, to the Grade II Listed pub, heralding a steamy start to proceedings in the afternoon.
Many local groups and dignitaries were invited to take part in the celebrations, held less than two weeks before Christmas, while two local good causes were also presented with donations.
The Dean of Rochester Cathedral, the Very Reverend Philip Hesketh, pulled the first pint, to cheers all round, before blessing it and the pub with a specially-written blessing. The Dean also blessed a hop garland, provided by William and Caroline Alexander of Castle Farm in Shoreham.
Shepherd Neame Chief Executive Jonathan Neame presented representatives from the Medway Queen Preservation Society and the Rochester City Centre Forum, which raised funds for the town’s Christmas lights, with donations of £1,000 each, to a hearty round of applause.
Chief Executive Jonathan Neame said: “We are delighted to officially celebrate the reopening of The Royal Crown, after what is undoubtedly a remarkable refurbishment.
“Our team have worked incredibly hard to bring this project to fruition, revitalising a building steeped in history, which is now serving today’s customers with a warm welcome, in a stunning setting.
“I am certain that The Royal Crown, led by General Manager Tom Crackett, will continue to go from strength to strength.”
The Dean of Rochester, Dr Hesketh, said: “I was delighted to bless the first pint in the beautifully renovated Royal Crown – just a stone’s throw from Rochester Cathedral. It was also heartwarming to see Shepherd Neame giving back to the community with its two generous donations to local groups.”