The Castle that was rescued from decline

Les Kingstone who has taken over as manager at The Castle Inn at Bolsterstone
Les Kingstone who has taken over as manager at The Castle Inn at Bolsterstone
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Customers are returning, the choir’s trophies are back in the cabinet and there are even plans for an outdoor music festival in September.

The 170-year-old Castle Inn in Bolsterstone is back in business after a campaign by local people following its closure.

“From day one everybody was so relieved that the place was open again,” said manager Les Kingstone. “It’s going from strength to strength. We have had to set three more local people on to help with the food.”

The pub is still owned by Trust Inns, but is now in the hands of a small company, LS Ltd, owned by Lauren and Stefan Moverley, of Sheffield.

They were approached by Trust after things didn’t work out for the previous managers, which resulted in the place closing for five weeks and a ‘Save The Castle’ campaign.

LS, which owns a pub near Mansfield and is looking to open in Harrogate and Derbyshire, called Les, another Sheffielder, who has 30 years experience in the licence trade, to run The Castle, which he does with his Japanese Akido, Tyber.

Villagers and Bolsterstone Male Voice, who have used the pub for rehearsals for many years, were consulted. “We asked them what they wanted from a pub and the prices they would be happy with,” said Les.

So now the choir is back on Monday and Thursday nights, and its many trophies and certificates are back in the cabinet. When the pub closed, all rehearsals were held in the village hall, which continues to be used.

The future of the pub is being built on real ale, good food and a community welcome.

“It’s refreshing to be in an area with no trouble, and the people are amazing. Now we have got to make sure it stays as good as this, or gets better. We are not going to rest on our laurels.”

Already on the agenda is a music festival in a nearby field in aid of a local dog charity. A date in September is being lined up featuring Dr and the Medics, the band renowned for its 80s hit, Spirit in the Sky. Licensing and other issues are currently being addressed.

While many places across the country are closing, Les, aged 62, believes that with the right business plan and by co-operating with the community, traditional pubs have a future, and customers will return, as they have in Bolsterstone, locals and people from further afield.

Meanwhile, he has settled into the job high on the hills of the north of Sheffield.

“I have come out of retirement to help with this. For the first two weeks, it put ten years on my life, and not it has taken 30 years off it.”