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Boost for Brimscombe Port as historic pub set to reopen with new tenant


The owner of a popular Stroud restaurant and outdoor catering firm is set to take over the lease of the pub he has wanted to run since he was a young trainee chef.

Wesley Birch and his team are working hard on a giving the Stroud District Council-owned Ship Inn in Brimscombe a makeover and are expecting to open by July 8. He will be selling coffee, cakes and lunches during the day, while preserving its pub identity as well.

“Ever since I moved to the district when I was 16, I have always looked at The Ship and thought ‘I’d love to run that pub’, “ said Wesley, who runs Birch Restaurant in Stroud town centre and an outside catering firm. He will be moving in with his wife Rosie and daughters Edith and Ada. “It’s a wonderful building – it’s like a Tardis. We’re investing in it heavily to make it a welcoming environment.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and my team to extend our ever-growing business. I’m incredibly lucky to have a very skilled team and supportive family - we relish the opportunity to open the Ship Inn and are thankful to Stroud District Council for entrusting us with this community pub.

“We plan to very much maintain a pub environment. The interior and exterior need a lot of TLC and this may take a few weeks to undertake. However, I hope we can create a vibrant and welcoming public house. The menus and information will be posted regularly via our social media sites.”

The 18th century pub stands on the Brimscombe Hill road, alongside the route of the Thames & Severn Canal. It was bought by Stroud District Council in February 2017 as part of de-risking the redevelopment of Brimscombe Port and the Cotswold Canals Connected restoration.

“One of the council’s key priorities is helping to create a sustainable and vibrant economy that works for all and this fulfils that. I’m delighted to have Wesley and his team aboard after a competitive tendering process, and I’m looking forward to sampling his menu,” said Stroud District Council Leader Doina Cornell.

The pub was most recently used by social enterprise The Long Table, which temporarily used the kitchen in November 2020 as a base for providing 3,000 Christmas meals for people in need.

"It's really exciting to see the energy with which Wesley and his lovely family have approached running the Ship Inn. People in the community need spaces like this to socialise and relax, especially after the year we've had,” said Thrupp Ward Councillor Beki Aldam.

Stroud District Council is looking for a development partner to build an exemplar low carbon development incorporating wider canal regeneration, creating jobs, community and enterprise opportunities, nature recovery, new industries and a nationally-important destination for canal tourism at Brimscombe Port. Infrastructure works were approved in March for the reinstatement of the canal and basin there.

The news comes as new tenants are expected to move in to the recently refurbished historic mill buildings, and environmentally-friendly water source heat pumps are being installed at Brimscombe Port Mill.

Wesley has run Dinner at Six since 2014 from Union Street in Stroud and renamed it BIRCH in line with his outdoor catering firm in 2018. He trained at William’s Kitchen in Nailsworth from the age of 16 and has built a loyal following in Stroud. During the pandemic Birch brought thousands of meals to homes with a popular takeaway service.