Friday, 27 November 2015

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CAMRA pub of year award for Penrith hotel

A popular hotel has been named as the winner of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) Solway Branch’s Pub of the Year 2013.

Agricultural Hotel photo
Gary and Wendy Bowden, of the Agricultural Hotel, Penrith

Penrith’s Agricultural Hotel – which is known locally as the Aggi – will be presented with the award on Friday.

The historic watering hole was built in 1807, close to the heart of the town, and has the distinction of being one of the first-ever cattle auctions anywhere in the world.

Farmers were well known for bringing their cattle to the pub and the serving hatch they used is still behind the bar – but it is no longer in use – and the original cattle ring is now hidden behind the walls of the restaurant.

However, according to landlord Gary Bowden, its fame has spread beyond the county to Hollywood, with international singing superstar Barry Manilow making a special trip to sample its hospitality last year.

He said that the locals were very welcoming and he was surprised when the singer walked through the door. He said: “He had a friend who works in LA who was English. He stays with us and he said to him ‘go and see what you think’.

“The next minute, eight of them came in and one of them was Barry Manilow. He started talking to us. He was here for about two hours and then went out for a walk and came back taking pictures of the locals and their dogs.”

Mr Bowden said that the singer had been very complimentary and thought everything was well done. He added: “He spoke to one of the girls and said people had said he had to call in.”

The 53-year-old, who runs the pub with wife Wendy, said that the secret of his success with CAMRA was the real ale, the atmosphere of an old English pub, and its closeness to the railway station.

He said: “We sell a lot of real ale.”


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