A Carlisle venue is celebrating a first for the city with the success of its newly launched gin parlour.

Said The Actress To The Bishop is the cheekily-named venue, complete with stylish 1920s decor on the second floor of the Howard Arms in the city centre.

Dianne Irving, who runs the venue, is delighted with how the gin parlour, which launched just before Christmas, is attracting a younger clientele, particularly younger women, than would traditionally have been among regulars at the Howard Arms before it underwent a major £350,000 refurbishment.

“It shows that if you try something different, and give a place a style and a theme all of its own, that people will come and relax and enjoy a night out with a difference,” said Dianne.

“We’ve got more than 100 gins to try from the weird and the wonderful like Black Tomato gin to the more well known ones.”

And it’s not just the gin which customers are enjoying. They’ve also been having fun getting into period costumes at the same time.

“We’ve got costumes from the 1920s around the room, and customers have been having a lot of fun trying on some hats and feather boas and taking selfies.

“People have been really getting into the spirit of the place, and what the venue is all about, which is fantastic to see.

“It’s a great place for young women, or young men for that matter - and we have had plenty of those coming in as well - to come and try some different gins and have a good chat and a laugh.

“Because it is something so different we have people coming from as far away as Lockerbie, Dumfries, Penrith and over from West Cumbria, as well as a lot from the city itself.

“From people using it as a place to meet when they are out shopping, to those who are travelling to and from the train station, or those looking for somewhere different to celebrate a special occasion.”

Former headteacher-turned-entrepreneur Dianne is a fan of Carlisle’s heritage and aims to bring some of the city’s history back to life through the decor, furnishings, photos and artwork at her venues.

Urban myth has it that The Howard Arms’ basement is haunted by the ghost of an actress from the days when Her Majesty’s Theatre was directly opposite on the other side of Lowther Street.

Dianne has also recently bought the Milbourne Arms in the Shaddongate area of Carlisle and aims to have the premises open for business in the next few weeks.

She also runs the Crown Inn in Stanwix and the White Mare in Beckermet.