THE demise of the traditional pub has been well-documented in this column.

It’s part of our social fabric that continues to be destroyed, purchased by developers and plundered for profit changing the character of our towns and villages forever. It has led to converting our much-loved pubs into betting shops, private apartments, convenience stores and DIY centres.

So, it was so heartening to witness a pub that had been saved. A local drinking establishment that has once again become a social hub within the community.

The Old England Forever, Clayton-le-Moors, had closed its doors seemingly forever, in October 2018. However, thanks to independent Bolton-brewery, Bank Top, who purchased the hostelry, its doors are now once again open for business.

This Edwardian terraced pub was previously a relatively small, three-roomed establishment. However, after a major renovation, it now boasts a roomy, brightly-lit and comfy open-plan environment. Other features include fixed, soft upholstered bench seating, dark oak tables and chairs; and a stone-built open fireplace.

There was also a very innovative and impressive feature on the floor, in front of the bar. A glass window has been installed, allowing customers to view the casks of ale in the cellar, awaiting to be consumed. It looked superb. A feature that I’m sure will prove to be a popular topic of discussion.

Another imposing feature is the light oak constructed bar. which runs the entire width of the pub. More importantly for discerning beer drinkers, it has six cask ales on offer. Five will be dedicated to the Bank Top range and the remaining one will be a constantly changing guest beer.

Bank Top have an excellent selection of cask ales. I sampled two on my visit. Flat Cap (4%) was my first choice. A delicious, golden, English bitter with a pleasant citrus aroma leading to lip smacking flavours of subtle biscuit malt and fruity hop bitterness. The second choice was one of my favourite mild beers. Bank Top Dark Mild (4%) is a brewing masterpiece. The complex flavours of dark chocolate, liquorice, dark berries and caramel, balance perfectly. Wow!

Old England Forever is very much a traditional community orientated pub. You will not find any gaming machines, jukeboxes or live sports within these walls. Social interaction, I feel, is paramount and will be actively encouraged.

Dave Sweeney, owner of Bank Top Brewery, said: “Both me and new landlord, Chris Hardy, are really looking forward to seeing all the regulars and new customers of Clayton coming in and witnessing what we have done.”

Dave added: “Lots of work has gone on over the last four months. A great credit goes to the builders, electricians and all the other contractors involved in putting this all together. Also, my support team at the brewery, for allowing me to make this all happen.”

I have the upmost respect for Dave Sweeney and the team at Bank Top brewery. They have such a passion for our valued pub heritage and its survival. Their efforts have put something back into the community. Given the pub industry some welcome news. I doff my flat cap to them.