A Merseyside pub saved from closure has been named the best in the country
The Cricketers Arms in St Helens, Merseyside, has won the prestigious Pub of the Year title from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) just five years after it was boarded up for closure.
When owners Andy and Denise Evans took over the running of the pub in 2013, it was boarded up and hadn't served cask ale since the 1980s. The Cricketers Arms is now a well-established local community pub with an excellent selection of 13 locally sourced cask ales and up to 20 ciders in the summer.
Alongside an impressive ale and cider range, plans are in the making for a microbrewery to open in the next few months and customers will be tasked with naming the pub's beers. Visitors can also take part in a number of social nights including regular beer festivals, dominoes, jam nights, pub quizzes, karaoke and pool teams, as well as enjoy a new whiskey and gin bar.
The Cricketers Arms regularly wins local CAMRA awards, but this is the first time it has won a national title. Paul Ainsworth, CAMRA's National Pub of the Year coordinator said: "After winning the regional award in both 2015 and 2016, it's a well deserved third time lucky for the Cricketers to be named CAMRA's national Pub of the Year.
"In less than five years, Andy and Denise have converted a boarded up pub on the brink of closure into a true destination pub for beer lovers across the country. What impressed me the most is that the Cricketers is a genuine community pub where people from all walks of life come together to socialise. It is a shining example of how a pub, which seems destined for closure, can have its fortunes turned around when in the right hands."
Owner Andy Evans said: "We are over the moon to be named the top pub in the country after just a few short years of renovations. We've done everything we can to make this a welcoming community pub and still have exciting developments ahead of us. As well as expanding the beers available, we created a beer garden and put greens in the ground, and have big plans to install a microbrewery this year. We are very proud to be part of the cask ale scene and look forward to celebrating with our locals!"
Runners-up in the competition include the Wigan Central in Wigan, the Stanford Arms in Lowestoft and the Weavers Real Ale House in Kidderminster. Pubsin the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, community focus and most importantly – quality of beer.