Alton pub all set for Christmas after major refurbishment

A REFURBISHMENT of The George pub in Alton has been given the royal stamp of approval.

The new signs for the Butts Road hostelry feature the portrait of King George VI as he appeared on postage stamps of the time – complete with perforations around all four sides.

This traditional image is intended to highlight the history of a pub that was built in 1746, replacing a big capital G which had welcomed customers since the last revamp around 20 years ago.

General manager Dan Rees said: “The new logo featuring King George VI is a design last used some decades ago.

“We initially thought of using all the colours of George VI’s stamps before we went for plain black and white. It really stands out.”

Tim Lees, landlord of the Punch Pubs establishment, added: “We are trying to get away from the modern pub signs and trying to get back to a proper old-school one, like the stamps.”

Punch has spent a “significant” sum on the refurbishment, which on the outside also features a new lick of paint and replacement of the old rotten wooden window sills.

New bedding, new planters and festoon lighting are brightening up the garden, while major work has taken place inside the listed building.

There is new lighting in the bar, which also has a new bar top made from reclaimed ash. The number of hand pumps has increased from three to five to allow The George to offer guest ales on rotation alongside regulars including Camden Hells lager and Inch’s cider.

One end of the bar is devoted to food and the other to music, with a display of record sleeves adorning the wall next to the area where performers play live. The first gig was Grizzly Rhys Morgan on opening night last Friday, with Charlotte Campbell and her acoustic guitar to come on Saturday and another live music night on December 18.

Dan said: “I’ve used my background in the music industry to bring down touring professional musicians who wouldn’t normally play in Alton.”

Tim added: “We wanted to carry on the tradition of live music here. It’s very important to us.”

The George reopened after lockdown in April and Dan spent six months working in the kitchen before the three-week refurbishment.

Now he is set to use his culinary and front-of-house skills in a private dining room off the main bar.

He said: “I have a fine dining and cooking background, and I like meeting the customers, so we’re going to offer a chef’s table experience. We have a new hearth with a real log fire so it should be nice and cosy.”

The pub was built by troops from the 37th Foot who had just returned from the Battle of Culloden.

Commanders in the regiment’s history included the Duke of Marlborough and the Duke of Cumberland, both of whom had the pub named after them for a time.

While known as the Dukes Head Inn in 1867, it was the venue for the coroner’s inquest into the death of Fanny Adams, who had been murdered in Alton three days earlier.

Tim said: “It has quite an amazing history and it still has its original Georgian cellar. It’s celebrating its 275th anniversary this year and it’s always been a pub.

“The idea behind this refurbishment was to keep that Georgian feel and make it contemporary of its time.

“We wanted to still be a pub with great food rather than a restaurant with a bar.”

The George is open from midday to 11pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and midday to 6pm Sunday. Food is served from midday to 2.30pm and 6pm to 8.30pm Tuesday to Saturday, and midday to 3pm on Sunday.

It is open from midday to midnight on Christmas Eve, 11am to 3pm on Christmas Day and midday to 1am on New Year’s Eve. It is shut on Boxing Day, December 27 and New Year’s Day. For more information call 01420 513398.

With a new coffee machine, a piano and a Kensington station clock from 1879, there is something for everyone.

Looking forward to the festive season and the future, Dan said: “We’re getting ready for Christmas and beyond.”

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