One of the area’s best known pubs – the Derby Arms at Thornley – is to re-open next month with a local man at the helm.
Jonny Parkinson, who grew up in Longridge, was a catering student when he got his first bar experience at the Derby Arms.
So he and his family – who still live minutes from the pub – joined the saddened villagers when the pub closed last year.
But now he’s going back to his old stamping ground … as general manager of the re-born pub that becomes the sixth site to be relaunched by Lancashire’s fast-growing Seafood Pub Company.
Jonny, 28, got his first part-time job at the Derby Arms a decade ago while studying hospitality and catering at Preston College. He worked the bar, waited on tables and, after college, became assistant manager.
Three years ago he joined the Seafood Pub Company. Since then he has been the launch manager of their award-winning Assheton Arms in Downham and is currently running the Oyster and Otter on the outskirts of Blackburn.
From there he was “gutted” to see the Derby Arms close.
“Everybody felt the same,” he says, “because the customers were so loyal. Everybody knew each other and many of them would sit in the same seats every time.
“It was one of those picturesque places where people went just for the atmosphere. I loved working there.
“It’s where I started learning and nobody was more devastated than me when it closed. It will be strange to go back - but an exciting dream job because it will be very different when the Seafood Pub Company stamp goes on it.”
The Derby Arms becomes the fifth pub to join the Seafood Pub Company portfolio in little more than three years – with the sixth site, the Barley Mow in the Pendle village of Barley, due to open next month.
The contemporary Thornley village pub and destination restaurant, redesigned using traditional oak, flags, slate and steel, will have a central bar leading into three dining areas, two with feature fireplaces, an atmospheric tap room for bar games, an outside courtyard and six bedrooms.
“There’s a big buzz about the Derby,” says Joycelyn Neve, founder and managing director of the Seafood Pub Company, “and the opportunity for Jonny to return to where it all started for him was just too good to resist.
“It was once one of the best pubs in the area – and it will be again. People can expect our usual trademarks because the Derby will be a destination seafood restaurant with signature dishes made from the best British and local produce. And it will also become a vibrant village pub again … this time with bedrooms too – which is a ‘first’ for us.”