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Landmark Branston Pub Closes for £150,000 Investment

A landmark Branston pub is closing for a major £150,000 investment that will upgrade it into a top quality local with a new dining area and outside space.

The revamp of The Blacksmiths Arms on Main Street is being undertaken by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and comes as licensee Maria Dillon prepares to celebrate her 17th anniversary at the helm. Work starts this week, and the pub is scheduled to reopen in time for Halloween.

The makeover will renovate and repaint the outside of the prominent pub, adding new signage, lighting and planting to enhance the entrance to Branston. To meet increased demand for year-round alfresco eating and drinking, the work will extend the garden into the car park and create a 36-seater covered area, complete with heating and lighting.

A complete refurbishment of The Blacksmiths Arms’ dated interior will make it more contemporary and comfortable, whilst keeping its traditional feel. Original features such as fireplaces will be retained alongside new flooring, furniture and designer lighting. To cater for all occasions, a new dining area - fitted out with booth seating - will complement the pub’s spacious bar. Sports enthusiasts have not been forgotten either, and will benefit from a state-of-the-art AV system and big screens to show sporting events.

Maria and her family took over The Blacksmiths Arms in 2005, when it was unloved and little used, and transformed it into a hub of Branston life that has raised £15,000 for local good causes in the past five years alone. During the lockdowns, Maria and her regulars worked tirelessly to help those in need. Their activities included providing quarantined toiletries to patients at Burton upon Trent’s Queen’s Hospital and Derby Royal Hospital, delivering free Sunday lunches to people who were struggling and supplying much-needed blankets and animal food to the RSPCA in Burton. The pub also made masks, aprons and washbags for NHS staff and sourced hard to find items such as flour and hand sanitiser for villagers.

Says Maria: “The Blacksmiths Arms has had a lot of use over the years and was in need of a refresh. The designs are beautiful and will give the pub the new lease of life it needs. It’s the perfect way to thank residents and regulars for all their support over the years and particularly during the pandemic. They make The Blacksmiths Arms, and their backing means the world to me. I can’t wait to open the doors again and show everyone their new-look local.”

Adds Star Pubs & Bars’ investment manager Mike Smith: “Maria is an outstanding licensee who really cares about the community and gives The Blacksmiths Arms its fantastic, friendly atmosphere. We’re delighted to be investing to enable her to keep it thriving for the long term. With all the housing being built in the vicinity, there is a real demand for great pubs.”

The refurbishment at The Blacksmiths Arms is part of a £38m investment that Star Pubs & Bars is making in more than 700 pubs in 2021.