A Leighton Buzzard pub is transforming its centuries-old barn, bringing music and better disabled access to the town.
The Golden Bell, in Church Square, has undergone a makeover, as its owners have renovated their garden barn and turned it into an outside bar.
‘The Bottom Bell’, as it is now affectionately known, offers lager and cider on draught as well as a wide range of spirits, while a pagoda has been erected to double as a band stage so the pub can host some live, acoustic music during the summer.
Having opened on April 13, just in time for Easter, Lisa Drew, landlady, said: “Although the weather wasn’t really on our side, we had a lot of visitors over the Easter weekend. Let’s hope we have a great summer!”
She added: “We took over in January last year and the barn out there was being used for storage.
“My husband, James, and I saw it as a great opportunity to have a garden bar in the summer – everyone loves a glass of wine in the sun!
“It’s a Grade 2 listed building with two floors.
“We’re keeping the first floor for storage and the ground floor will be a bar with seating.
“The big barn doors will be open in the summer and it’s going to have a proper ‘chill out’ vibe.”
The landlord and landlady are pleased that its orginal window frames and doors are still in place, with the barn around 200 years’ old, and they have found some original tack hooks to hang on the wall.
Tin tiles are on the ceiling, while the floor has been polished - and James may even hang his bass guitar on the wall - keeping the barn “modern with old features”.
With the pub bringing some of the town’s history back to life, its is also helping to keep the town centre thriving, as musical acts are due to play this summer in the new pagoda.
Skyriders, an acoustic duo, will be playing classic rock tunes in The Golden Bell on May Day, and blues singer, Giles Hedley, is booked for June 11, when the Big Lunch is in town.
Lisa said: “What with losing Bottleneck Blues Bar and The Roebuck, it’s important to make sure pubs in the town stay in business.
“A lot of our regulars have been drinking here for over 30 years and we’re hoping to attract younger customers, too, as the barn will have premium lagers and fruity Strongbow cider.”
Finally, one of the most important changes for the pub has been creating better access for disabled customers.
“We’ve had a brand new drive put in because ours is damaged and shingled,” said Lisa.
“As a listed building we are not allowed to put ramps on to the front of the pub, but with the new driveway people can now come easily round the side way and into the beer garden.
“It’s really important that everyone has access.”