A Shropshire market town pub is set to reopen with a new name this Friday (18 October), following an £80,000 transformation inside and out.

The Watergate, in Whitchurch, has been fully refurbished by market-leading community pub operator Hawthorn Leisure.

Formerly known as The Last Orders, the pub now features a newly-decorated exterior complete with new signage and lighting, while inside there is new flooring, upholstery, back bar, and modernised toilets.

“The place was completely gutted”, said manager Paula Jenkins, who has run the Watergate Street pub for two years. “I think regulars are going to be very pleasantly surprised when they walk back through the doors on Friday. Some have been trying to have a peek to see what’s going on.

“They needn’t worry, though, we’re still totally sports-focused, with six screens showing Sky Sports, BT Sport, and horse racing on At the Races. We’ve a pool table, two pool teams, a dominoes team, and will still provide customers with their favourite drinks at reasonable prices.

“As well as welcoming back our regulars, and in an effort to encourage new customers to come and see what we’re all about, we’re going to be introducing quiz and open mic nights, and will have board games available for people to play. We’ll keep whatever proves to be most popular.”

Paula, who will run The Watergate with a team of 13, has been a hairdresser, beauty therapist and garden designer among myriad jobs, but said she loves the social aspect of working in pubs: “It’s hard work, but a fun way of life.”

Hawthorn Leisure operates more than 650 community pubs across England, Scotland and Wales, owned by specialist leisure and retail property company NewRiver.

Managing director of operations Mark McGinty said: “Paula has done a brilliant job running what will now be The Watergate, and we were keen to back her hard work and dedication with a significant investment to bring the pub bang up-to-date.

“We’ll now continue to provide Paula with the all the support she needs to run and successful, sustainable business.”

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