The Malt pub on Wilsden road in Harden has beaten off competition from over 1100 pubs to be named Pub with the Best Outdoor Area in national awards run by Heineken owned Star Pubs & Bars.
The Malt was taken over just a year ago by local pub operator, Neil Pickles, who wasted no time in restoring it to its former glory with a £375k refurbishment of the pub inside and out.
The judges were amazed by Neil’s achievement in transforming the garden from an overgrown field covered with bushes and unpruned trees into a beautiful garden which is so popular that on sunny days all the pub’s customers sit outside.
A former bowling green, the three quarter acre site was hidden from view with many village residents unaware it even existed. The judges noted how Neil’s painstaking work had changed it into an asset and a facility that the whole community can use and enjoy.
“Bushes have been cleared, trees pruned, the garden leveled and reseeded, new flower beds put in and a patio layed. Neil has thought through every detail to make the Malt’s garden a really special and welcoming place; as well as seating for 220 people, there’s even a tethering post and drinking trough for horses, water bowls for dogs and bike racks for cyclists,” says Chris Jowsey, trading director for Star Pubs & Bars.
Neil received the coveted award at a gala celebration night from football legend and broadcaster Chris Kamara.
Says Neil, “It’s fantastic and a great reward for a lot of hard work. As a local person, I wanted to create something for the community and I hope the new garden at the Malt has done that.”
Neil is not resting on his laurels. As well as hosting a Christmas market in the Malt’s garden, he is hoping to use it for more community events in 2015 and will be starting work on expanding the kitchen in the New Year to keep up with demand from customers using the garden in the summer.