In Global perspective by Clyde Mooney

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Britain’s largest pub chain has opened Britain’s largest pub, as the Eagle & Child in Ramsbottom is awarded Britain’s Pub of the Year for its work with the community.

In 2008, the GFC took its toll on a Victorian seaside pavilion casino in Ramsgate, Kent, the business closing and the building falling into disrepair.

It was finally rescued by UK pub giant JD Wetherspoons, which has unveiled the 11,000sq ft (3,600sqm) Royal Pavilion, touted as the largest pub in Britain, with bars on two levels, an outdoor terrace and view onto Ramsgate beach.

The Daily Star published a review by actor Michael Henbury, who has made a career out of being 2ft 9ins (79cms) tall, appearing in Harry Potter movies, and as an Ewok in Star Wars.

The Star reports Henbury, said to be UK’s smallest man, giving a thumbs up to the country’s new biggest pub, saying it “feels cosy and welcoming even though it is so huge”.

JD Wetherspoons, commonly called ‘Spoons’, are often criticised for operating a budget model, but Henbury noted the bar packed with Friday lunch trade, and praised being able to get two ‘decent’ meals and two drinks for under £20 (AU$33).

Meanwhile, UK trade publication the Morning Advertiser recently held the John Smith’s Great British Pub awards for 2017.

Drawing praise from the judges for its social enterprise, Pub of the Year 2017 was awarded to the Eagle & Child, in Ramsbottom, around 200 miles north-west of London.

The Eagle & Child was similarly faded, but has been revived by visionary owner Glen Duckett, who wanted to remake the old local boozer as a family dining pub, at the same time creating training and employment opportunities for local youth, including those with disabilities and trouble with the law.

The hotel has also created a living beer garden in unused space behind the building, which will include an outdoor kitchen and bar, with seating and children’s play area amongst a mini orchard of vegetable and ornamental gardens, fruit shrubs and chickens.

Duckett says this ‘new style of beer garden’ integrating dining with fun, productive edible gardens, has always been part of his vision for the Ramsbottom pub, which espouses commitment to both the local environment and economy.

This is not the first award for the innovative Eagle & Child, snagging the Skills for Business’ ‘Hospitality & Tourism’ award last year, and Duckett crowned ‘Entrepreneur of 2016’.

Eagle & Child beer garden

Images: Eagle & Child website