Pub project is making progress

The race is on to get the Brown Bear pub in Berwick back up and running for its scheduled opening on December 1.

Friday, 25th November 2016, 8:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 9:26 am
Mark Dodds, Jim Herbert, Paul Waddington and Jason Thompson at the Brown Bear pub on Hide Hill in Berwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Hide Hill venue, closed for more than a year, has been taken on by a community group under lease from landlord Frank Flannigan.

Project manager Mark Dodds said: “We were perhaps expecting the worst with it having been closed for such a long time but it’s in better condition than we thought it would be.

The Brown Bear pub on Hide Hill in Berwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

“We’d been worried about the need for re-wiring and other electrical work, plumbing and the sort of things which normally comes with taking on a project like this but there’s been none of that which is testament to the previous tenants.”

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Much of the work that’s been taking place over the past week or so has beenof a superficial nature to create a good first impression for customers.

“It’s still touch and go for re-opening on December 1 but that’s what we’re aiming for,” said Mark.

He is still looking for the community to get involved in lots of different ways, including the recruitment of staff.

The Brown Bear pub on Hide Hill in Berwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

They are also eager to hear from potential suppliers and would be delighted to receive donations of unwanted pub furniture.

They have also put a call out for acoustic musicians, fiddlers, choirs, quartets and duets for appearances in the bar during December.

People are also invited to drop-in to see how the project is going or fill in a survey on its website –

Meanwhile, one of the founding stakeholders, Jim Herbert, has been looking into the pub’s history.

He said: “The first reference I can find of it is in Good’s Directory of 1806 in which we find one Joseph Brown is the landlord. It passed through the hands of at least four publicans until 1866 when William Moor took over. After 10 years, his son (presumably) George Moor took over until a major change in 1898.

“The pub many of us are familiar with at the top of Hide Hill is not the original building. The old structure, a much more basic affair, was demolished for a new establishment. The bar was originally facing the door as you entered from Hide Hill with a parlour, kitchen and scullery at the rear. This layout changed in the 1980s when the open plan structure many of us remember was created.”

At the back of the pub is the remains of the Low Meeting House, a Presbyterian church built in 1719.

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