Southport town centre’s oldest pub has been transformed by the seaside resort’s youngest pub landlords.
The Cheshire Lines on King Street spent over two years with its doors closed after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK in March 2020.
The venue first opened in 1817 – two years after the Battle of Waterloo – and was originally called The Cross Keys Inn.
Pub-goers are delighted to see staff at such an historic hostelry now pouring the pints once more, courtesy of an impressive makeover from award-winning local landlords Neil Walsh and Tom Hodgin.
Neil and Tom, both 30 years old, already run The Windmill on Seabank Road, another historic site which has been a pub since the 1850s.
Earlier this year The Windmill was a finalist in the Pub Of The Year category in the Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards.
The venue has just been shortlisted for the award once again, and local people are looking forward to Neil and Tom bringing their renowned high standards to the Cheshire Lines.
The pub’s kitchen is now open every day from 12.30pm except Wednesdays.
Neil said: “It has been four years now since Tom and I took over at The Windmill!
“We first walked in on 5th November 2018. It seems like a long time ago!
“The good thing is that Covid and all the lockdowns we went through seem like a distant memory now.
“While things have been going very well at The Windmill, and we are enjoying it there, we thought it was time we took on a new challenge.
“Our staff will be able to split their hours between the two pubs, and we have created some new jobs too.
“We got the keys to the Cheshire Lines and shut down for two weeks while we started making some changes, including carrying out a full repainting throughout, and we gave everywhere a thorough cleaning.
“The real log fire is roaring to keep everyone warm this winter!”
Pictures hang on the walls of the historic pub, and on the sign at the front, hailing the former Cheshire Lines Railway which was formed in the 1860s and became the second-largest joint railway in Great Britain.
The firm operated 143 miles of track in the then counties of Lancashire and Cheshire between 1863–1947. There was a railway station at Southport Lord Street nearby.
Neil said: “There is so much character in this pub, so much history. When we came in we found a book about the pub with lots of history about it. It detailed some of the former owners – at one time there were three generations of one family that had it.
“We are trying to do all we can to keep that character, for example through carrying out a sympathetic repainting job.
“We have used a lot of local tradespeople, local painters, plasterers, plumbers, and it is fantastic that they have done such a really great job for us.”
The Windmill is well-known in Southport for the quality of its home cooked food, including its famous Sunday roast dinners.
Customers at the Cheshire Lines can now enjoy a similar style of delicious home cooking too.
Neil said: “We have been looking forward to introducing traditionally cooked pub food, similar in style and quality to The Windmill, but with some different options and specials.
“People will be able to join our new Cheshire Lines Whisky Club, which will be coming soon. We will have 20 whiskies with a loyalty card.
“We are making slime changes to our outdoor area too. We are changing ‘The Secret Garden’ to the rear into ‘The Courtyard’.
“Rather than accessing it through the back of the premises, you will be able to see it from the street, and will be able to get to it directly.
“We are starting new quiz nights every Sunday from 7.30pm, which will be one of the few Sunday night quizzes in the area.
“We will look to bring in some live singers for the weekends soon too.
“The Cheshire Lines has been empty for over two years, which has been a shame for such a beautiful pub.
“The Cheshire Lines and The Windmill are two of the oldest pubs in the town, and it is nice that we now have one towards each end of Lord Street.
“We really want to put the Cheshire Lines back on the map.
“It’s really nice to be able to take it over and put it back where it should be.
“The support we have had from everyone so far has been really good. People are really pleased to see it back.”
The Cheshire Lines, on King Street in Southport town centre, was originally called The Cross Keys Inn. The building behind the Cheshire Lines was called The Horse & Jockey.
It changed its name to The Cheshire Lines in around 1890 and was officially Grade II Listed in 1972.
It will be open seven days a week from midday until around 10pm, and from midday until around 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.