The ‘lost cause’ country pub in Cheshire and the inner city Manc boozer named the best in the UK

Some of the best pubs in the land are right on the doorstep

By Ben Arnold | 20 September 2023

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A Cheshire pub that was dubbed a ‘lost cause’ and a treasured community pub in Hulme have been named among the very best the UK.

The winners of the Great British British Pub Awards for 2023 were announced yesterday, and a couple of them are in prime striking distance.

The Cholmondeley Arms near Nantwich in Cheshire, just over an hour from the city centre, won both the Best Country Pub gong and the overall Great British Pub of the Year awards.

Owners Tim Bird and Mary Maclaughlin own six pubs that have been described as ‘lost causes’, and took over at ‘the Chum’, an old school house, in 2011.

It now serves a devoted local community with homemade pies, locally sourced produce and makes its own gin.

The Cholmondeley Arms

Tim 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.”

Meanwhile, the Old Abbey Tap House in Hulme won the Community Hero award.

Run by Rachele Evaroa and Craig Thomas, it’s a community interest company, and runs meetings and events all through the week, from curry nights and spoken word to weekend raves.

In January this year, it opened up as a ‘warm bank’, so that people struggling with heating bills could come and spend the day there, watch films and play games.

Old Abbey Taphouse

During lockdown, it distributed more than 3000 free meals to people in the local area, for people who couldn’t afford to take part in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

Other pubs not far from the city which scored awards this year include The Bellflower in Garstang, Preston, which won Best Pub For Dogs, while the Royal Dyche in Burnley won Best Pub To Watch Sport.

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.”