The race is on as Victorian-style Shropshire pub seeks new owners

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Blood Bay at Ludlow

The Blood Bay, named after the mayor of Ludlow’s Horse who won the famous Aintree race in 1932, was once a newsagent, but was turned into a Victorian pub by current owner Jon Saxon in 2017 .

The pub, which offers a wide selection of beers and ales, including traditional owner-brewed recipes, has been featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for two consecutive years and has been beer accredited in 2018, along with numerous international media outlets. .

It also has a loyal and regular clientele and is popular with tourists, especially during Ludlow festival season.

Jon, who had decided to turn the building into a pub from the 1950s to 1960s until he discovered many layers of wallpaper dating back to the early Georgian era and shop fittings from the late 1980s. Victorian times at the start of the renovation process, said the pub was regularly at “bursting point” during the peak of the holiday season.

Owner Jon Saxon

He said: “It has a very loyal regular clientele, but also benefits from the tourist trade, especially during city festivals, food and drink, beer and medieval festivals.

“When they’re on, the pub is in full swing and the locals love to educate tourists about what to eat.

“Most people think it has been around for 300 years and are quite surprised when they find out that it was a newsagent and has only been operating as a pub for three years.”

Jon has embarked on a long renovation process to bring The Blood Bay to life.

He said: “We had to go through a classified building permit to fix everything.

The Bloody Bay. Photo: hiltonsmythe.com

“We found an old door and landing, which we reintroduced, exposed wood paneled walls and ceilings, and we matched the older layer of wallpaper elsewhere and mixed in the original paint from digitized paint scrapings, so it’s pretty much as it would have been in the 1820s and 1830s on the ground floor.

“It has a very solid feel – like he’s been sitting there for years and years – it’s literally like drinking in a pub in the 1800s.”

Jon thinks people appreciate the simplicity of a pub where they can just talk and enjoy a great beer without any other distractions.

After historic beer recipes from the 1800s were discovered behind a plinth, Jon set about brewing his own beer and selling it in the pub alongside modern, authentic beers.

While new owners have the option of continuing to brew the beers if they wish, Jon admits it’s a fairly inefficient process compared to today’s techniques.

“Old Victorian beers are wonderful. They have a pretty modern feel – but you can tell they are old recipes.

“The old way isn’t a very efficient way of brewing beer, but it’s the way they did in the 1800s – and the results are remarkably modern.”

The pub is in the market with business advisor and financial brokers Hilton Smythe Group.

Gareth Smyth, CEO of Hilton Smythe Group, said, “We are delighted to welcome The Blood Bay to the market, and we are confident it will be a fantastic investment. It has a lot of character and is clearly popular with locals and tourists alike.

“After 18 hectic months, people can’t wait to go back to pubs and enjoy their unique atmosphere. It is an exciting time to be a homeowner or a wife.

Jon, who previously enjoyed the life of an automotive journalist and started a historic commercials magazine in 2012 before renovating The Blood Bay, wants to sell the business so he can focus on new publishing projects.

He said, “I wish someone would go out there and put their own seal on it and be very interested, so see what the next chapter brings.”


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