An ale and hearty farewell

Nigel & Vanessa Williams enjoy their party as they retire as licensees of the Ranmoor Inn
Nigel & Vanessa Williams enjoy their party as they retire as licensees of the Ranmoor Inn

When the pub went on the market, it was described as offering “one of the best leasehold assignments in the whole country”.

With its real ales, traditional atmosphere and location next to magnificent St John’s Church, The Ranmoor Inn is many drinkers’ ideal pub.

For the past 12 years, Nigel and Vanessa Williams have been an integral part of the formula.

Now they have retired, and for Nigel, 63 last Friday, it is the end of a lifetime in the trade. He was an area and regional manager for Tetleys, Wards and Whitbread before taking his place behind the bar. “I was born into the business. My parents had a pub in West Dorset,” he says.

Nigel and Vanessa are handing the lease – the freehold is held by Enterprise Inns – to Alex and Katharine Pierce, from Derbyshire.

“It’s a thriving business, although that’s not to say there haven’t been difficulties over the years,” says Nigel. “All businesses need to reinvent themselves every now and again. We haven’t got the energy or enthusiasm to see it through.

“Younger people should take it on and we are confident Alex and Katharine will take it to the next level, although they like it pretty much as it is.”

It’s also the end of the Just Williams pub chain.

Nigel and Vanessa were joint partners in the chain that comprised the city centre Three Tuns, The White Lion in Heeley, The Star and Garter in Winter Street and The Closed Shop in Commonside as well as The Ranmoor. The name reflected the couple’s name and was also in fond memory of their son Gareth, who loved the Just William stories. He died of a brain tumour in 1998 at the age of six.

Nigel and Vanessa, who presented £5,694 to St Luke’s Hospice as they departed, are moving to the Rivelin Valley.

“There is still time to do something else, to do some of the things we haven’t been able to do over the last few years – holidays, not going out with your friends when you want to, going to parties on a Friday night. What joy!

“We are not great travellers, but we want to see more of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and possibly Europe. We are certainly not going to live on our private island in the West Indies! We never completed on that deal!”