Seafood Pub Company revive The Derby Arms at Thornley

Derby Arms

Derby Arms - Credit: Archant

One of the region’s best-loved pubs has been saved from the scrapheap by Joycelyn Neve and her team

Derby Arms team; Jon Jones (head chef), Victoria Hargreaves, Steven Glenister, Bradley Hayes, Jona

Derby Arms team; Jon Jones (head chef), Victoria Hargreaves, Steven Glenister, Bradley Hayes, Jonathan Parkinson (General Manager), Joycelyn Neve (the owner), David Thorneycroft and Antony Shirley (Executive Chef) - Credit: Archant

One of Lancashire’s historic country inns – a place where generations have enjoyed Sunday lunches – is back in business like never before.

The Derby Arms at Thornley, just outside Longridge, always had a reputation as a destination eating place but its star faded in recent times and it closed last year.

Now Joycelyn Neve and her team at the fast-expanding Seafood Pub Company have spent £700,000 transforming it into an outstanding dining pub with six good-sized bedrooms. Phase two is expected to see seven more bedrooms open plus with a function room that can accommodate 120.

‘Having rooms is something new for us so that makes it a bit scary. But scary is good – it means you are doing something different,’ says Joycelyn, daughter of Chris Neve, one of the region’s top suppliers of fresh fish.

Langousine and peppered leek quiche with tomatoe and cucumber salad

Langousine and peppered leek quiche with tomatoe and cucumber salad - Credit: Archant

‘I’d always been told that the Derby Arms had a tremendous reputation and was a place to go for it if it ever became available. It’s been very exciting transforming it.’

Joycelyn, with executive head chef Antony Shirley and company chairman Andrew Mclean, who was instrumental in setting up Individual Inns, have watched trends in the hospitality industry and responded to them.

‘Food tourism is a growing phenomena and if you are running a destination pub we felt customers needed to be able to enjoy the experience without having to drive home afterwards,’ she says.

‘This is now a national trend and with Bowland and Clitheroe on the doorstep, with great walking country and cycling, it means we can attract people from all over the country. I’m a proud Lancashire lass and I want to encourage tourists to come and see what we have to offer.’

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The pub has been reconfigured with a special backlit bar facing the front door. From there, the inn has three dining areas, two with feature fireplaces, an atmospheric tap room for bar games – including darts - plus an outside courtyard

The architects have used traditional distressed oak, flags, slate and steel. Local craftsmen have been employed for much of the work, including an impressive ‘wine wall’ featuring dozens of bottles.

Head chef is Jon Jones, who has moved from the company’s Farmer’s Arms pub in Great Ecclestone – the advantage of having a group of inns means you can develop staff and switch them between venues, said Joycelyn.

The Derby Arms is the fifth Joycelyn has opened since 2011 and the sixth, the Barley Mow in the Pendle village of Barley, opens in October. Further expansion is on the cards.

Perhaps the happiest man at the Derby Arms is general manager Jonny Parkinson. He grew up in Longridge and got his first part-time job, pulling pints at the Derby Arms. ‘I loved working there,’ he said. ‘It’s where I started learning and nobody was more devastated than me when it closed. It’s a dream job.’