A couple who revived the fortunes of Corsham’s Methuen Arms Hotel have been rewarded with the Best Turnaround Pub accolade at the Great British Pub Awards in London. Martin and Debbie Still, both 47, took over the hotel, in the High Street, in November 2009.
They made major improvements, such as repositioning the bar, modernising the guest accommodation and putting in new gas and electricity systems before reopening in November 2010. Since then, the pub’s annual profits have been in excess of £1m.
It had already been named as the regional winner of the Best Turn-around Pub in the competition, organised by the pub trade’s Morning Advertiser. Then, on Thursday, last week, the Methuen Arms was crowned the national winner of the category during a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, in Park Lane, London. Mrs Still, who previously ran Whitley’s Pear Tree Inn for 10 years with her husband, said: “We are really pleased, as this is a huge pat on the back from the industry to be recognised and it is also a great morale boost for our hardworking staff. “It was closed for a year – and in an horrendous state – when we first took it over, probably worse then we anticipated, so it is great to have turned the situation around. “The Methuen Arms is in a prime position in the town and it needed to be brought back to life.” As part of the competition, judges toured the revitalised building, giving it the thumbs up.
At last week’s ceremony, the couple were handed their accolade by comedian and television presenter Jason Manford. Rob Willock, the editor of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, said: “Judges were struck by the great use of a grand, imposing property in which the Stills have installed a complex of comfortable bars, restaurants and private dining rooms, plus a dozen bespoke letting rooms. “They also praised the pub’s menu, as being full of interest and creativity, as well as its real ales which are locally sourced. “The pub has given locals a reason to stay in town, rather than travel to Bath for a night out.” Mrs Still said the pub was now making arrangements to hold a celebration to thank staff and customers for playing a part in earning the national award. For more information about the Methuen Arms, call 01249 717060 or visit the website at www.