Alnwick pub looking forward to welcoming customers back after lockdown following major makeover

An Alnwick pub has received a major makeover during lockdown.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 6:00 am

The refurbishment of the Blue Bell Inn on Clayport Street is the latest sign of an upturn in its fortunes.

Landlady Jackie McDougall said: “The Blue Bell has turned itself around in the five years we have been here, from a place that nobody respected, into a family run community hub.

“We have turned the worst pub in Alnwick into one of the friendliest.”

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The Blue Bell Inn, Alnwick.

The pub’s enforced closure due to the coronavirus pandemic enabled Jackie and her team to create a new beer garden, redecorate the bars and toilets and repaint the exterior.

This was combined with Sunday lunch deliveries to residents in self-isolation – which will continue – and free Sunday lunches for key workers.

They also maintained flower baskets and carried out litter clearance despite being closed.

Now Jackie is getting ready to welcome back customers on Saturday, July 4.

The Blue Bell Inn, Alnwick.

“I’m really looking forward to having my regulars back,” she said. “They have the biggest hearts and I’ve missed them.

“Quite a few of them are single, elderly men who won’t have had the chance to meet up with others for the past 12 weeks.”

Special measures have been put in place to ensure their safety – and that of others.

“I’ve been sending emails to my regular customers about the social distancing measures and the need for everyone to get on board with those,” she said.

Spaced out tables at the Blue Bell Inn.

“I’m keeping the front bar area for the more vulnerable ones who haven’t been out but just want to see their friends. The bigger area will be available for others with the tables all spaced out and, of course, we’ve got the beer garden too.”

In normal times the pub holds ukulele riff raff band practices, car clubs, homeless collections, community group meetings and much more.

“It’s going to be a bit weird,” admits Jackie. “We have tried so hard through the lockdown and we hope there will be some recognition of that. It’s not all about posh, chrome bars – we’re a real community pub.”

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The new beer garden.

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The refurbished bar.