Long-serving landlord calls time on his career at Alnwick pub

Gus Odlin, retiring landlord at the John Bull Inn, Alnwick.
Gus Odlin, retiring landlord at the John Bull Inn, Alnwick.

One of the longest-serving landlords in Alnwick is calling time on his long career behind the bar.

Gus Odlin, 67, who has been serving a loyal band of customers at the John Bull Inn, in Howick Street, for nearly 20 years, has decided to bow out after he pulls his last pint tomorrow (Sunday).

The award-winning pub, which has won many accolades from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) over those years, is being taken over by the Hadrian Border Brewery. It is due to close all next week for redecoration before reopening under the new management on Monday, December 3.

But the John Bull has not quite seen the last of Gus as he will still be living in the flat upstairs and has volunteered to open the bar on Christmas Day.

“I have really enjoyed my time here, the customers, the characters and the craic,” said Gus, who moved from Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire to buy the small, 19th-century freehouse in 1999.

He built a reputation for a fine selection real ales and Belgian bottle beers, as well as a range of some 120 malt whiskies. The traditional pub is also famed for its darts and dominoes teams, and its annual leek show.

“The highlight of my time here was winning the CAMRA regional pub of the year in 2014, which meant we were the best in the North East,” said Gus.

At the time, he described himself as ‘absolutely chuffed to bits’, adding: “I thought it was unachievable for a back-street boozer in Alnwick to be given the overall award when there are so many good pubs around.”

New owner, Shona Burrows, who heads Hadrian Border Brewery, said Gus is an ‘absolute stalwart’ of the John Bull and is very well respected.

“He has run it like a hobby - the pub has been lucky to have had long-term landlords, such as Gus. We wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement,” said Shona.

Hadrian Border started in 1994 with the purchase of the Border Brewery Company in Berwick, selling two barrels a week at that time. Five years later, the capacity to brew had grown to 35 barrels per week, with Farne Island being its best selling beer.

In 2000, the Four Rivers, formerly Hadrian, brewery in Byker, Newcastle, went into liquidation and the company bought the 20-barrel plant. Seven years later, the iconic Tyneside Blonde, a regular favourite at the Alnwick Beer Festival, was born.

A new home was identified in April 2009 in the former Ross’s pickle factory in Newburn, after attempts to move to Alnwick, first to the Maltings in Dispensary Street, then on the Lionheart Industrial Estate, failed 17 years ago when ‘bureaucracy let us down and cost us a huge amount of money’.