No half measures for Northumberland pub transformation

Denise Brown at The Gate, Forestburngate. Ref: JCNG gate 3
Denise Brown at The Gate, Forestburngate. Ref: JCNG gate 3

According to the Campaign for Real Ale, scores of pubs are closing across the UK each week.

But the landlords of a rural drinking hole, located at Forestburn Gate, Netherwitton, between Scots Gap and Rothbury, are determined not to become swallowed up by this worrying trend.

In fact, since Denise Brown and partner Richard Oliver took over The Gate earlier this year, they have managed to turn around the premises’ fortunes.

The pub, on the B6342, has undergone a thorough refurbishment and is a hub for many activities, from darts to clay-pigeon shooting.

The ambitious pair are not content to stop there and are aiming to further improve the business – starting with the launch of home-cooked, traditional Sunday lunches. The new venture launches this weekend, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

Denise, from Rothbury, said: “We took over the ailing pub, formerly the Crown and Thistle, in March and we have spent a busy six months refurbishing and decorating, both internally and externally.

“The Gate is at times a hive of activity with not only darts matches, leek show and quiz and music nights, but now it is a hub for quoits, clay-pigeon shooting and the Bowmen of Rothbury Forest.

“We have ambitious plans for the pub to enhance its character and make it a hub for a widely-dispersed community.

“Earlier this year, the Campaign for Real Ale said that 26 pubs close nationally per week. We are determined that The Gate will not become one of these statistics. The refurbishment and the start of home-cooked Sunday lunches is a reversal of the trend usually seen with small village pubs, that of being run down and with eventual closure.”

The pub plays an integral role in the annual Simonside Country Fair. It has a long history of being a toll point of the Alnmouth to Hexham ‘corn road’ and its earliest-documented landlady was Gracie Pyle in 1828.