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Pub of the Year: Drinks all round for silver medal status

By Doug Wootton | Penkridge | Homepage | Published:

Two well-known pubs are celebrating after finishing as runners up in the Express & Star's Most Popular Pub of the Year contest in the Staffordshire and Walsall areas.

Tony Later, right and Toby Marut at The littleton Arms in St Michael's Square, Penkridge which finished Runner Up in the Express and Star's Pub of the Year Awards

The Littleton Arms, in Penkridge, which won the award last year, is a refurbished 1737 coaching inn.

Tony Later, who took over the pub in 2005, said: "It hadn't been painted in 10 years when I took it over.

"It had been forgotten and the rooms for accommodation weren't in use so we needed to plough money into it straight away.

"All in all, I've probably put about half a million pounds in refurbishments, all much needed and we've brought it back to its former glory.

"We have music from local artists most week and but as we're a very food orientated pub, it's usually acoustic solo artists or duo's so it complements the food service."

The pub, which offers a range of cask ale's craft beers, continental beers and ciders is run by Mr Later, backed by a team including general managers Toby Marut and Katie Blackburn, alongside head chef Will Dean, who he says have been crucial to the pub's success.

Mr Later, who is originally from Burnley, has since fallen in love with Penkridge and lives nearby with his three children.

In the Walsall area, Willenhall pub Noah’s Ark Inn finished runner-up.

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The family friendly pub is run by 22-year-old Mike Bradley, from Cannock, who has worked in the pub trade since leaving school at 16.

He said: "We keep it simple, happy staff equals happy customers, we keep the food and beer cheap, so people leave happy, full and with money left in their pocket.

"Variety is important too, rather than just having Carling on tap, we always have special ciders available, we always have four cask ale's on tap and we sell a lot of Banks's bitter."

The pub's house charity, chosen by customers, is the Midlands Air Ambulance which they regularly hold events for, alongside a weekly disco, a monthly live band and they've recently started a classic car show.

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Mr Bradley added: "We've got two car parks, so as a bit of a car man myself, I thought we could try hosting a classic car show.

"We're now hosting them on the last Sunday of every month and they're going really well, I think people like that it's something different. We've had people come as far as Kent so far, we're getting a really big reach online because of it."

The pub finished runner-up last year in last year's competition and is run by Mr Bradley and his partner Cassie Ward, who have been at the helm for the past 15 months.

Doug Wootton

By Doug Wootton
Wolverhampton Reporter - @_DougWootton

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