THE great, great grandson of one of the founders of Wadworth brewery is determined The Bear in Devizes will be restored to its former glory... he is just not sure when.

Toby Bartholomew, whose ancestor John Smith Bartholomew joined Henry Wadworth at the Devizes brewery in 1885, is now its operations manager and knows how important The Bear is to the business.

Unlike other Wadworth managed houses The Bear did not re-open in July when coronavirus restrictions eased and only started serving drinks again in September.

Even now the hotel rooms are not for let and the bar and restaurant areas only open from 10am to 6pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 10am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

He said: “The Bear should be our flagship and we want to get it back to being fully open. But it is a big beast and it is not an easy exercise to manage. We need to work out exactly what we need to do and what is cost effective.”

The hotel has 24 rooms plus a large ballroom and formal dining restaurant that remain closed. Mr Bartholomew said: “The rooms are a bit tired and need a facelift. But we have been badly hit by coronavirus and need to work out what is going to work best.”

Just before lockdown Adrian and Jacqui Bartels, who had managed The Bear for less than two years, left. Now Michael Dobbin who joined the staff as assistant manager three weeks before lockdown is in charge of the day to day running.

He is joined by chef Karl Gregory and they have been tasked by Mr Bartholomew to attract customers back to The Bear. Mr Gregory said: “We are enthusiastic about what we are doing and want to let people know we are open.”

The Black Swan, on the opposite side of the Market Place, is open as a hotel but is yet to re-open its restaurant. It is now managed by Matt Humphries who also runs the Three Crowns.