The Carpenters Arms – Westrip, Stroud Re-opening Night

It’s 6pm on Friday 28 Nov and the pub is celebrating a re-opening under new owners Sammy (Samantha) and partner Gordon and two daughters. The dining room has tables for villagers with linen white tablecloths and a large buffet sits invitingly in the corner. Everyone is welcomed with a glass of bubbly, but some have chosen a pint, bottle or a glass of red wine. There’s some pleasant music in the background and Sammy accepts gifts from the regulars. One local said she had never been in this part of the pub, preferring the main bar in the past and some villagers meet each other for the first time. The room is brightly lit with ceiling lights sunk into a white ceiling crisscrossed with wooden beams. A bunch of early puss willow adorns a corner and a bunch of a red seeds adorn the mantlepiece in front of the large mirror set into an attractive brick wall at the end of the room opposite the bar. An abundance of framed art works has been hung on the walls around the room and all are for sale. They are all labelled the Cheltenham School of Fine Art and are by different artists. They really brighten this very attractive space which is adorned with a Welsh dresser.

Sammy clearly has an eye for the aesthetic as this bright space adorned with pictures has attractive neutral grey painted walls and radiators and by contrast a new bright traditional wooden door to the terrace and the window frames are covered tonight with attractive brown checked curtains on brass rails attached by brass rings which were ‘run up’ by one of her village friends a day previously. There is a neutral carpet over most of the floor alongside some wooden tiles on the main side thoroughfare. Dried hops spread across the space above the actual bar celebrating their interest in ales. Some of the chairs and tables have been painted a similar matt grey in the last two days and others left their natural wood colour. The bar serves both the main bar and the dining room each of which can be seen through the serving bars portholes. The pub then extends backwards away from the main bar to two other rooms. It’s a long building known for its wonderful view over the Stroud valleys.

Sammy says it’s been very busy for the last two weeks getting the pub up and running and preparing this opening and she feels a little tearful now this it’s happening. One of the staff brings round mince pies and all of them, including, Sammie and partner wear newly attractive pub T shirts with ‘The Carpenters Arms – Freehouse’ printed on them.

The main bar is larger than the dining room and is, by 7 o’clock, full of villagers – about 30 – some queuing at the bar and children scamper in and out of the bar excited at being able to play out on this dark evening. A staff member brings round chocolates for the populace which are gratefully received by the younger members and then the race outside to enjoy them. This is going to be a family pub as are many of the village pubs in this area and it’s gratifying to see whole range of the generations and diverse inhabitants mixing in one their village social centres. They plan to have a ‘Friday Family Fun session in December from 3.30-6pm including festive crafts, and food available. The dartboard holds pride of place opposite the bar alongside a TV that has Sky Sports to attract villagers. The stone slate floor is ideal for this public bar space and again attractive curtains on a runner merge with the slate grey hair painted walls and floor.

Sammy and family have made a clear statement that this will be a village pub catering for all, including a coffee and cakes slot from 9 in the morning as well as sports fans, children and families as well as diners and they will make use of the 1/3 acre they have for other outdoors activities in warmer times.  

People in the dining have begun their buffet it is presumed that everyone here can avail themselves of it. There must be between 80-100 people here now across the main bar and the dining room and it is to be hoped that this is a good omen for the depth of support that the pub can expect from the villagers. By 7.30 people are still joining the merry throng, and this all bodes well for this newly refreshed pub. Sammie tinkles a glass and she thanks everyone who has supported this occasion and the help she has received from family and friends as she takes over this pub in the village in which she has lived most of her life. We all need to do whatever we can to support her effort to ensure its survival.

Bob Jeffrey VPS bj@villagepubsurvival.org.uk