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Hawthorn Leisure sinks £127k into North Shields pub

The Dolphin Inn, Tynemouth, North Shields has reopened its doors under new management, following a revamp from owner, Hawthorn Leisure, which took over the site last November.

The award-winning pub company had recruited a new partner and his family to run the King Edward Road pub, and spent £127k to bring it up-to-date, including decorating it inside and out.

Partner Robert Wilson, a former Army physical training instructor, said, “Hawthorn Leisure took on The Dolphin after the previous partner passed away. It was in a very poor state, and looked tired and unloved.

“Since I came here, I’ve worked hard to win locals’ hearts and minds, and regulars have started to come back, along with some who hadn’t visited for 10 years. Clubs and groups have come back, too, including the local folk and ladies’ book clubs. Our weekly quiz nights are proving very popular, too.

“We’re right in the middle of the community here, and even when the pub was neglected, they remained very loyal to it and fond of it, and they respect it. Everyone has been very excited by the refurbishment.

“The Dolphin is a very safe environment, in which we embrace the art of conversation. And even though it now has a new look, we’ve kept the traditional look and feel, including the open fires, which add to the welcoming atmosphere.”

Wilson, who runs the pub with his wife Amii, their three sons and two daughters-in-law, has signed a five-year tenancy agreement with Hawthorn Leisure.

The pub company, which owns more than 600 community pubs across England, Scotland and Wales, has put up new signage at The Dolphin, installed new lighting and an outdoor seating area, and refurbished the toilets. There are new fixtures and fittings, and the kitchen has been modernised.

Wilson added, “We’re offering good, old-fashioned, home-made pub grub, including lots of local- sourced fresh fish; steak and ale pie; burgers; a dedicated vegetarian menu – something close to Amii’s heart, as she’s vegetarian – and a separate children’s menu.”

Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations, Mark McGinty said, “In Robert and his family we’ve a fantastic new team at The Dolphin, and one which is very community-focused.

“This pub has a long history and is well-liked by people living nearby, and who we know have been looking forward to it being refurbished, so they can come back and spend time there with the friends and families.”