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Cheshire pub reopens following £480k investment with Star

The Big Lock, Middlewich family- and dog-friendly village pub, has reopened following a major £480k revamp.

Closed since February, the pub’s six-week transformation ended up becoming a six-month project when the pandemic halted refurbishment work by Priory Inns North West and Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars.

The Big Lock is Priory Inns North West's 10th pub and its third with Star Pubs & Bars. Pictured are staff (left to right) Jack Bellis, General Manager Rick Brown, and Charlotte Smith.

The interior of the pub has been opened up to create a spacious open plan bar, snug and dining area on the first floor with floor to ceiling glazed sliding doors allowing diners to enjoy the pub’s stunning canal-side location.

With safety front of mind, Priory Inns North West has reduced its internal seating capacity by 65%, leaving seating for 60 at well distanced tables. When life returns to normal this will be increased to 120 seats.

Outside, there is further socially distanced seating for 80, half next to the canal and the other half at the front of the pub where a canopy provides all-weather shelter for alfresco eating and dining. New planters, mood lighting and festoon lights all add to the evening ambience.

Other safety measures put in place include multiple hand sanitisers, table service and payment by app for those who would like to. Booking is advisable though not compulsory and there is a socially distanced waiting area at the entrance.

For now the pub’s plans for a pub quiz, live music and sports, are on hold. However, they will be serving a great choice of pub classics, a children's menu and a traditional Sunday roast and offering a wide selection of premium drinks.

Licensee Neil Sparkes said, “The reopening of The Big Lock, has been a long time coming but well worth the wait. Early indications are that it is going to be a popular place.

'Customers are delighted by the stunning transformation, by the fantastic space that has been created and The Big Lock’s canal side location.

'It has been a joy to open the doors and provide a relaxing and safe environment for customers to socialise in.”

Andrew Jamieson, Star Pubs & Bars Business Development Manager, said, “We were close to reopening when lockdown occurred. The last stage of the building work took longer because of health and safety measures we had to implement for the builders.

'However, that is all behind us. The pub is now a fantastic dog friendly village pub which locals love.”