Pub aims to be back in the Saddle

The Saddle Inn at Lea.
The Saddle Inn at Lea.

A country inn once voted the best family pub in Britain has shut down for the second time in eight years.

The Saddle Inn at Lea near Preston closed for business a week ago and attempts are being made to find new tenants to re-open it.

Owners Daniel Thwaites say they are hoping to have a new landlord in place within the next two months.

“The sooner the better from our perspective,” said Rachel Crossland, the pub company’s recruitment manager.

“The previous licensee gave notice and left to go elsewhere. Hopefully we can get the pub back open as soon as possible.

“We are just in the process of recruiting someone. I can’t give a definitive answer to when it is going to re-open. But hopefully it will be in the next six to eight weeks. Obviously it depends on who will be going in there.”

The Saddle recovered from closure in 2009 to win a major national award two years later. At one point it was boarded up and looked like it might even be bulldozed or converted into a house.

But an £80,000-plus refurbishment in 2010 gave the building a new life and in 2011 it had become such a thriving country inn that it was voted Best Family Pub in the Great British Pub Awards thanks, in the main, to its extensive beer garden and children’s play area. The Saddle is thought to have opened as an alehouse back in 1873 by Roger and Richard Smith.

It is one of more than 250 tenanted or leased pubs in the Thwaites’ estate, 203 of them in the North West. The Saddle is expected to attract a lot of interest because of the thousands of new homes being built in the rural north of Preston.