Ale lovers are spoilt for choice at a Lancashire beer hall which boasts the longest pub bar in the north.
The Bowland Beer Hall can be found inside a massive 19th century converted weaving mill in Clitheroe – and the bar has 42 hand pulled beers and 40 keg lines.
It’s been part of an extensive multi-million pound project to redevelop Holmes Mill over the last six years, with a food hall, ice cream parlour, a four-screen Everyman Cinema, and even a 39-bedroom hotel on site.
Punters at the beer hall can sit in the old mill’s engine room next to the original engine that powers the old weaving sheds – that’s if they don’t fancy sitting at the huge 105ft oval bar, of course.
And if beer isn’t quite your thing, then there’s also a GIN distillery and bistro that is set to open later this summer, according to the MEN.
Warren Bennett, commercial director of the James Places group who owns the complex, says: “We’ve spent an awful lot of time and energy on it, it’s a significant site in the town centre, and it had been derelict for more than ten years before we took it on.
“We’ve spent around £10m on the site, and it’s really bearing fruit now.
“There are now more people employed on the site than when it was a weaving shed. It had 200 staff when fully functioning weaving mill and now well over 200 people are employed here.”
The venue is just a few minutes away from Clitheroe’s train station and has made the beer hall a destination.
Trains run to Clitheroe once an hour from stations including Preston and Blackburn, as well as from Manchester Victoria.
Warren added: “We get an awful lot of visitors from Manchester and Bolton, a lot of people on the ale trail, and we’re expecting that to increase when they start the new faster train route here.
“Because of being so close to the train station, it’s around a 15 minute walk, it just opens us up to a much bigger customer base.
“We like to think we’ve given people a real reason for travelling here.
“We’ve got 42 hand pulls on the bar, you won’t find anywhere else in the north west with more hand pulls on the bar.”
Visitors can enjoy Bowland Brewery’s own range of six beers, as well as pints from producers across the North West. There’s also a wide selection of ales and ciders on offer too.
Warren said: “Since opening the beer hall six years ago we’ve been busy since the word go, it’s been extremely successful due to the size of the place.
“We are very much a seven day a week trading venue, and most people visit in the day, they come for late lunch or early evening. We’re not necessarily chasing that Saturday night crowd.”
The venue also has a courtyard area where they can cater for 400 covers – which is ideal for sunny days this summer.
But did the beer hall purposefully try to create the longest bar, or was it just coincidence?
Warren explains: “The owner James designed the bar, he’s very much a designer, and when we were putting all the pipes into the cellar James rang me up to say we need to extend the bar by another couple of metres.
“He said if we make it just a little bit longer we can make it the longest bar in the UK.
“He realised we were only a couple of metres short so the guys extended it!”
There is no official Guinness World record for the title of longest bar in the UK, and Warren notes that since they opened, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium launched its new ground in 2019 with a bar that runs the full length of its pitch at a ginormous 65 metres.
But Warren says: “We are still the longest continuous public bar in Britain as far as we know, and certainly longest in the north.”
Despite a difficult 18 months and three national lockdowns, James Places Group, run by James Warburton, has recorded an increase in sales this year.
Warren said: “It’s been like turning a tap on for us – as soon as we’ve been able to trade, we’ve done extremely well. We’re 25% up on like for like sales across the group.
“What we’ve certainly found is that market towns have been doing extremely well in terms of recovery as it’s felt to be a safer, more comfortable environment and if you’re going to go out you’re more likely to go somewhere nice and perhaps go a little further to do that.”
But it’s not just drinkers that can take advantage of this beautiful destination. It also hosts weddings – and more than 200 happy couples have booked in at the mill now that have lockdown has eased.
Warren said: “It’s not unusual to see a bride walking around with a pint of real ale in here.”
Bowland Beer Hall is at Holmes Mill, Greenacre Street, Clitheroe
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