The Royal George
The Royal George Pub in Appledore has re-opened having undergone a complete transformation. The Grade II listed building took two years to renovate and is now open after completion in July. The pub has been re-opened by businessman Garth Hughes and his wife Sascha after they fell in love with the seaside town and the pub.
Work to transform the once derelict site was undertaken by builders Riley & Guy.
Premier Hospitality magazine spoke to Garth and Sascha about the project.
How did this project come about?
“We were living in Hong Kong at the time and were introduced to Appledore through some friends of ours. We have three young children and at the time, we were told that the next time we visited the UK, to visit Appledore. That summer we did just that. We had a fantastic time and decided to go back the next year and then we liked it so much that we ended up buying our family home in Appledore. I was working in financial services in Hong Kong and about two years ago, I reached a point where I thought I wanted to be a bit more present around the family and have a change of lifestyle out of the city, out of Hong Kong and back in the UK. The pub was on the market and it is in a fantastic location, right on the water with amazing views. I always thought what would I do if I left the corporate world and I started dreaming about this new career in hospitality and leisure and that’s when I started to investigate purchasing the building.”
Was it a complete re-work from the bottom to the top?
“It is a Grade II listed building so we had to work hand-in-hand with conservation and heritage to make sure we were doing everything correctly but there were no foundations and the site was built on sand. We had to go down about 4 metres to bedrock for three separate pillars of concrete and steel to form some solid base to build a structure of steel and masonry on the ground floor and then effectively, rebuild the building.”
What work has been undertaken inside to transform the site?
“Sascha has an eye for detail and wanted to respect the original features within the property. We sought to retain some of the original rooms, like the original snug; we have taken the walls back to the original brickwork and have kept original fireplaces. In the main bar area there were smaller dark rooms with a small restaurant so the idea was to offer an open plan space on the ground floor with supporting pillars and large windows. Upstairs we opened up half of the first floor for table space for customers, added a conservatory on the corner and an open terrace for outside drinking and eating. On the other side of the first floor there are three lettings rooms, which is a new feature – we also did the same in the attic. The outside of the building is now how it looked in the 1890s with the idea that as you walk towards it, it resembles something from 140 years ago but once you are inside it is actually really modern whilst respecting the original features.”
What has the response been like since you opened?
“It has been very positive and the locals have been very supportive. From the local village to the surrounding town, people have loved what we have done and have loved the fact that we have kept and are showing off some of the original features of the building.”
How important is this project to you and what does it mean to see it being received so positively?
“It means everything. This has been our dream for two or three years. We have been living the project through planning and rebuilding for the last two years and it has been overwhelming initially to see people in it and see them leave having enjoyed themselves and the experience. Seeing that is very pleasing to us and the staff. It really does mean everything to us so I am pleased it has all started so well.”
Riley & Guy Ltd
Riley & Guy Ltd is a leading building contractor working on refurbishment and restoration projects – including complex listed schemes – in and around North Devon. The company has been in operation for 15 years and within this time has built up an extensive portfolio of projects ranging from pubs and restaurants to churches, religious retreats and residential schemes.
Most recently, Riley & Guy Ltd was appointed as the main contractor on The Royal George. Working on the project, Riley & Guy Ltd built up a great working relationship with the client, which was paramount to the scheme’s success.
Martin Riley, Riley & Guy Ltd, commented:
“Garth and Sasha had a great vision of what they wanted to achieve with The Royal George. The work was challenging at times, with a number of complex issues, but actually that’s something we enjoy.
“We’ve been in the business so long now that working on projects like this, which offer their own unique challenges, often prove to be very interesting.”
“Since completion, all the feedback I’ve received within the local area has been positive, with The Royal George now rapidly establishing itself as a preferred dining choice in North Devon. People love what has been done and what is now being delivered by the client in terms of service and food, so it was fantastic for us to be involved with this scheme.”