A popular pub manager in a Lancashire town is being praised for working alongside Hawthorn Leisure to prevent the closure of a landmark venue.

Stuart Kirkpatrick was asked by the award-winning pub company to run The Station Hotel, in Nelson, which has just undergone a £150,000 refurbishment.

“People in the town come up to me and thank me and Hawthorn Leisure for taking on the Station,” he said. “They were worried it was going to close, like so many other pubs in Nelson over recent years.”

Having bought The Station from Amber Taverns last year, Hawthorn Leisure asked Stuart to run it before investing in a major scheme to update the interior. Stuart will continue to manage another Hawthorn Leisure pub, The Lord Nelson, which is just a short walk from The Station.

“We’re bringing live music back to Nelson, and will host local bands at weekends,” Stuart said. “That’s created a real buzz in the town, and it means people won’t have to get taxis to go elsewhere at weekends.

“There are two pubs left in Nelson; The Station and The Lord Nelson. The rest have closed or are no longer pubs. Hawthorn Leisure have done the place a real favour by keeping them both open.”

The Station, in Hibson Road, is a large Grade II-listed building, and retains many of its Victorian exterior and interior features, but has benefitted from new flooring, furniture, and a remodelled bar. It is split inside into two parts, one featuring a pool table, a dart board and screens showing Sky Sports and BT Sport; and the other a zoned area with a lounge, coffee station, and small function room.

There is a range of popular beers and ciders, a large selection of gins and other spirits, while muffins will be available to eat from the coffee station.

Stuart, who has worked at the nearby Lord Nelson for 15 years alongside his long-term partner, said: “We’ve created a cosy, welcoming atmosphere and want to attract people who maybe haven’t been here before – office workers, commuters from the nearby bus station, people from out of town, and those who go at weekends to bars and nightclubs in outlying towns and villages.

“We think the live sports will be a pull for football fans, while people are telling us that they’re really happy live music is coming back to the town.”

Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations Mark McGinty said: “Stuart has successfully managed our other Nelson pub for two years, so I approached him about running The Station, too. He’s a popular and well-known figure locally, and just the right person to revive the fortunes of this landmark town centre venue.

“We’ll now support him and his team in running what promises to be a successful venture, and which, judging by local reaction, has already prompted a very positive response.”

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