Cumbria Crack

New Union tavern opens in Kendal

Phil Walker behind the bar of the New Union.

[I]T takes a brave man to open a pub, when 23 a week are still closing down across the UK.

It takes an even braver one, when the pub concerned has had chequered recent history.

But new publican Phil Walker believes he has found the formula to turn a derelict and disused pub into a success.

The 30-year-old father-of-one opened the doors of the New Union, in Stricklandgate, Kendal, Cumbria, on Thursday, September 28.

The once bustling pub was used as the local headquarters of the local Conservative Party until autumn, 2015.

In March 2016 it reopened as a pub when an experienced landlord and landlady took it over. But they lasted just a year before it closed again.

Phil, a staunch Liberal Democrat on both the local town and district council, points to the revival of independent pubs and is proud his venture is a free house.

Serving a selection of real ales, craft ales, ciders and perries, as well as premier gins and whiskies, Phil, former vice chair of CAMRA Westmorland branch and Camra young members co-ordinator for the north, aims to create a sustainable bar.

Helping him prepare is his father Ian, who ran The Park, a club attached to Kendal Town football club.

Phil spent his teenage years learning the ropes there before working for Wetherspoons and managing Ruskins bar and bistro, both in Kendal.

“I’ve been working in pubs and bars for many years and I’m looking to move forward with my own business,” said Mr Walker.

“I got a phone call from the owner of the building asking if I would be interested in the opportunity. It’s a great area in town, especially with a large hotel down the road and several businesses popping up at this end of town as well.”

Cumbria County Council buildings and the town’s police station are just round the corner.

“Kendal is becoming an exciting place for real ales and craft ales and that’s what this is going to be all about,” said Phil.

He added that once the New Union is up and running, he hopes to introduce ‘good pub grub’ and Sunday roasts, and hopes to employ up to four people. Live music will also be featured.

“I’m looking forward to being able to host some exciting events in the future and make this an exciting part of town,” he added.

Certainly the first weekend open seems to justify his optimism.

“It was very successful, with a lot of new people in and old faces too. It was great to bring the pub back to life,” he added.

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