A pub within a stone’s throw of the Roodee has been bought by Chester Race Company but don’t expect it to be turned into a trendy wine bar any time soon.

The racecourse has bought The Watergate Inn from Enterprise Inns but traditional-style landlord Frank Marnell will stay on as the leaseholder and licensee.

Straight-talking Frank can see the amusing side of the situation as the relationship with his next door neighbour hasn’t always run smoothly.

Under fire Chester nightclub Cruise backs down over £1 drinks offer

But Frank, who came to the Watergate in 1992, is perfectly happy.

He said: “I think Chester is changing all the time and it’s no use being stuck in the past, you have to move with the times. As far as I’m concerned I have a new landlord and they have not asked anything of me and they have always given me what I’ve wanted.”

The Watergate Inn next to Chester racecourse

Talking about the current race company chief executive Richard Thomas, he continued: “Richard and I have always got on. Both of us have always called a spade a spade. If I’ve had a problem I’ve been able to go to him. It would be silly of me to bite off the fingers that feed me.”

The Watergate Inn looks set to retain its ambience as an old fashioned ale house rather than go upmarket in line with the rest of the racecourse portfolio which includes the 1539 restaurant, The White Horse and Commonhall Street Social.

“I’m not a yuppie bar and I have no intention of being a yuppie bar. I sell Jägerbombs, that’s the extent of my cocktail list,” joked Frank, who is also chairman of Chester Pubwatch and secretary of the local Licensed Victuallers Association.

And Frank, who has previously hit out at cheap drink offers and concerns around stag and hen parties in the city centre, says having a new owner won’t shut him up. “It won’t keep me quiet!” he quipped.

Richard Thomas, chief executive of Chester Race Company
Richard Thomas, chief executive of Chester Race Company

Race company chief executive Mr Thomas confirmed the acquisition saying it made sense to buy the pub when it became available rather than have an external operator take over.

He added: “We have got the ownership but Frank continues to be the tenant. Frank knows everybody in Chester.”

Mr Thomas said as the leaseholder it was up to Frank to run the pub how he wants. Asked if a refurbishment was on the agenda, he replied: “One day, maybe, but we’re not in any rush.”