Duckers & Diving: A bottle of Pils or a bottle of pills?
THIS week our intrepid newshound unearths a strange tale of drugs on the premises at a favourite boozer.
Warren Bailey, new owner of legendary Staffordshire watering hole the Meynell Ingram Arms, is set to put a zip in the step of the slow moving locals – he runs a vitamin business.
And it seems he has just saved them from a bad case of the runs … or worse.
My mole, frantically guzzling the tablets, tells me: “Apparently the new proprietor is the owner of Zipvit in Rugeley – they sell vitamins and the like to neurotic people who read the Sunday Times magazines.”
A touch harsh – a wide range including leading sports figures, particularly pro cyclists, use them.
My second mole confirms: “All I know is that Warren and Veronica Bailey are listed as directors of Zipvit so we assume they are the owners of the pub.”
Indeed I can reveal that Mr Bailey has taken over The Meynell which is currently closed for refurbishment.
A re-opening in August is scheduled.
The web site is promising a fine dining restaurant and smart bar with ‘informal dining’ area.
Quite how this is going to go down with the clientele of largely rustic Pedigree-drinking types is not at all clear.
Mr Bailey promises: “The new owners have a passion to retain what is considered a very important building and establishment which is recognised as having served the local rural community for a long and historic period of time.”
But he cautions: “It is important that the new business is successful to avoid any further closure and whilst encouraging a warm welcome to the existing community, it will have to encourage new customers.”
At Hoar Cross, it dates back to the 17th century but was placed into administration in October last year.
Since when a catalogue of horrors have been uncovered.
And, given the state of the place, the locals are probably lucky not to have been poisoned or indeed buried alive.
A structural survey identified a severe case of woodworm plus alterations carried out without authorisation.
“Furthermore the very poor standard of workmanship has resulted in a deterioration of the stability of the structure which is now showing in several areas and could have resulted in a collapse,” cautions a design and access statement.
“Poor housekeeping has also resulted in the foul drainage system being blocked, mainly by fat being disposed into it resulting in a huge build up and it has been common for floods to appear in the bar.”
All is being improved.
Among the massive list of works being done are new toilets, an additional dining area, the existing kitchen to be totally replaced, complete rewiring, eradication of the woodworm, and many windows renewed.
Never mind muttering, methinks the locals should be grateful.
The pub is well known across the local area for the staging of the Downhill Soapbox Race, which raises money for various charities.
It has been visited on several occasions by Prince Charles and was awarded the title of Pub of the Year in 2004 and 2005 in the Taste of Staffordshire Awards.