Award-winning Mersey pub reopens its doors

Popular with real ale fans, the Rose & Crown, in the heart of Wirral’s Bebington Village, has reopened after the coronavirus lockdown thanks to the support of the local community. Tony McDonough reports

Rose & Crown
Colin Birmingham from Brighter Bebington, left, with Rose & Crown James Skinner. Picture by Tony McDonough

Real ale enthusiasts are raising their glasses this week as one of their favourite Merseyside pubs reopens its doors.

The award-winning Rose & Crown, in the heart of Bebington Village in Wirral, closed in March due to the coronavirus lockdown and now, with the support of the local community, it opened its doors again on Wednesday, July 22. 

With the help of community group Brighter Bebington, local MP Alison McGovern and local councillors Tony Cottier, Christina Muspratt and Jerry Williams, the pub has installed wooden tables on an area of grass close by and will provide a table service when it reopens.

Licensee James Skinner and partner Isla Thompson took over the Rose & Crown just two years ago and have already established a reputation for offering top quality beers, regular entertainment and a great atmosphere.

In that time the pub has seen significantly increased custom from both locals as well as real ale devotees from further other parts of Merseyside and beyind. It always sets aside one pump for a guest beer.

In 2018 and 2019 it was the runner-up in the Wirral CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)  Pub Of the Year Awards. Until the March lockdown the pub was regularly packed with drinkers who enjoyed the regular live music and popular quiz weekly quiz nights.

During lockdown, James and Isla switched to offering home beer delivery, promoting ales from local craft brewers, such as Brimstage Brewery and Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog. The service proved a hit with local punters but, similar to many pubs, the big fall in revenue hit the business hard.

“Although we understand why it was necessary, the lockdown was a hammer blow to the pub trade which is already under huge pressure,” said James. “For us at the Rose & Crown it was especially tough because we had built up a fantastic local customer base in the two years since we took over.”

The Government has allowed pubs to reopen from July 4 but James said the initial announcement meant it was too short a notice for the Rose & Crown to reopen on that date. The pub has a more cosy traditional feel – a plus in normal times but more of a logistical challenge in an age of social distancing.

James added: “What is most important right now is the safety of our customers and staff. We didn’t want to just open in a rush on July 4. We wanted to make sure we did things properly.

“For the tables inside we are introducing a booking system with a maximum of two households per table and people will be served at their tables with an online ordering facility.

“The Rose & Crown is a real community pub and it is due to the efforts of the community, and the support of our customers and staff, that we are able to finally reopen our doors this week.”

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