THE historic Cumberland Inn has had a long and varied past and has been a focal point of its community for much of its near 140 years.

Now run by landlord Guy Harmer as a pub, of course, the Alston staple began its life as Dale View House. It was originally built in the four years between 1868 and 1872 as a family home and doctor’s surgery before becoming a temperance hostel.

Renamed Dale House, it then became a more general accommodation provider, and during the war housed workers employed in the war effort.

The building became licensed at the demise of the Golden Lion Hotel next door (now a car park), and the Cumberland name first appeared in the late 1950s. The Cumberland has had a succession of owners since, with varying lengths of tenure, and the occupants have undertaken continual upgrades to the site.

In 2002, the current owners bought the freehold and continued the tradition of offering great hospitality to locals and visitors alike, readying the Cumberland Inn for the next 50 years of hospitality and beyond.

Food is served all day, with a variety of menus on offer. Traditional bar meals are popular, but there is also a sandwich menu, and light lunches, and every Tuesday the inn hosts the Tuesday Lunch Club, offering a two-course hot meal with three choices plus coffee for £7.50. Booking for this (and indeed any) meal is almost essential in the current Covid-19 climate. All of this can be enjoyed both in the pub itself, or the pleasant beer garden, which although still officially under construction, will undoubtedly prove a hit as the winter months roll by.

This attractively-set pub really comes into its own, however, due to the uncompromising dedication of its staff to the community it serves. As Covid-19 continues to dominate the lives of so many, the staff at the Cumberland Inn have still pledged to remain as vital to their community as ever.

Staff at the inn set up an informal group during the summer, called the Alston Accommodation forum, with the purpose of sharing their experiences to others as they were moving towards re-opening in July. Quickly there were 30 members, and it proved a good organisation for distributing information to those of is that needed it.

Landlord Mr Harmer instigated a new round of Zoom meetings and is hoping it has potential to act as a local group of accommodation providers meeting to discuss the accommodation sector beyond Covid-19.

Mr Harmer admits that his biggest challenge remains Covid 19 and its impact, but one can only admire the dedication of himself and his staff to ensuring the pub still plays the role it always did for so many in this community. Providing a venue for people to eat, drink and be merry, and seeing people leave with a smile on their face may be his greatest thrill, but giving people a place of belonging and being of service to the community at large seemingly is never too far from his thoughts.