A YOUNG couple is seeking the backing of the community as they prepare to spend £1m transforming a boarded-up ale house into a family-friendly gastro pub and restaurant.
Davin and Sally Harris aim to breathe new life into the 267-year-old Ship Inn in Handbridge which has passed through three pub chains in the three years it has lain empty.
The Harris family want to create a relaxed free house selling a range of cask ales and wines with a restaurant offering favourite pub dishes using fresh local ingredients.
Sally, 32, who explained that a planning application will go before the city council on April 2, said: “We are all guilty of objecting to something we don’t like but not coming forward to say when we do like something. If people feel they can support us then we would love them to write in to the council.”
On the ground floor will be an informal bar area with sofas toward the front and dining at the rear. On the first floor, the restaurant continues within a jutting conservatory providing views of the Dee and extra seating.
Sally said the design, worked up with Handbridge-born architect John Tweed, aimed to get around the “awkward” layout which had put off so many potential investors.
An open plan kitchen means customers can watch their food being prepared.
And wooden floor boards will cultivate a “warehouse feel” evocative of the old mills which once stood nearby.
Old photos of salmon fishermen who used to pop in for a pint will hang on the walls.
“We saw the history of The Ship and got really excited. It’s been our magnus opus for the last three years. Being Handbridge residents we thought it was such a shame an iconic pub, which stands with pride on the street, was falling into disrepair,” explained Sally, who hopes the pub will help put the heart back into Handbridge which has lost several shops including the post office and Weinholts bakers.
There is limited parking nearby but research reveals there are 17,000 people within walking distance.
“It will be good quality food but we don’t want people to feel ripped off,” said Sally, a mother of four young children, whose husband Davin, 34, is a trained chef and has travelled the world with his trade.
If planning approval is given, the pub could be open by the autumn.