A leisure firm has created 50 new jobs after taking over a County Durham pub to open its third brewery tap.
Restaurateur Mark Hird bought the Kicking Cuddy pub at Coxhoe in 2012, which adjoins a building which he turned into the Sonnet 43 Brew House that same year at a cost of £200,000.
Hird is also a director of Tavistock Leisure, which owns eateries around the North East including The Grand Hotel in Hartlepool and The Roker in Sunderland, and he launched Sonnet 43 as a sideline business focusing on creating craft beers and ales for the region.
Now after undergoing a 14-month refurbishment, the pub is being reopened as a brewery tap, with a bar and restaurant offering ales direct from the brewery next door, as well as traditional British food.
The new venue, which has created around 50 full and part-time jobs, has been renamed The Clarence Villa – a title originally given to the property in 1857 in honour of the neighbouring Clarence Railway, used for coal transportation, which itself was named after the Duke of Clarence who later became King William IV.
Officially opening on January 26, the Clarence Villa is the third brewery tap to be opened by Sonnet 43 in the last 12 months, following the launch of The Lambton Worm, Chester le Street, which underwent a £500,000 refurbishment, and The White Lead, Hebburn, with more expected to follow in 2014.
Owner Mark Hird, said: “Sonnet 43 Brew House has been performing extremely well since its launch in 2012 and this has allowed us to invest in the former Kicking Cuddy pub and transform it into a modern brewery tap, offering not only good quality craft ales, but British food made using locally sourced ingredients. We are already planning to develop the site further in the future and hope to also include a visitor’s centre, offering brewing experiences and tours.”
Hird named the business after Sonnet 43 “How do I Love Thee?”, one of the best-known works of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was born and raised in Coxhoe Hall.
Within six months of its launch Sonnet 43 sought to expand its premises and increase its workforce, having exceeded initial estimations for sales of its craft ales and beers and it now fulfils orders for more than 100 pubs across the region.