ONE of the Ribble Valley’s most historic country inns is reopening after a £400,000 facelift.

The Assheton Arms, in Downham, has undergone an eight-week refurbishment to turn it into a two-story, modern gastro pub, complete with panoramic views across the valley to Pendle Hill.

The lease of the restaurant and bar was awarded to the Seafood Pub Company after a well-publicised pitch that also attracted the attentions of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White.

There are now four dining rooms, with new oak flooring and fittings, Lancashire cooking ranges, restored antique radiators and private dining areas, where guests can personalise their own lighting and iPod sound systems.

The new kitchen, which has a modern Robata charcoal grill used for preparing Japanese food, will serve restaurant meals and pub snacks.

On the menu are the likes of herb and citrus fish fingers sandwiches, monkfish and king prawn tagine, Goosnargh duck salad and salt and pepper squid.

The revamped pub, which was once called the George and Dragon and still has a stone fireplace dated 1765, will be run by managing director Joycelyn Neve and executive chef Anthony Shirley, who also operate the Oyster and Otter gastro pub at Feniscowles, Blackburn.

The Neve family has run a Fleetwood-based wholesale fish supply business for more than 130 years.

Anthony was previously a sous chef at Harvey Nichols in London’s Knightsbridge, head chef at Panacea in Manchester and at Raffles in the West Indies.

Jocelyn said: “The restoration programme has sensitively redecorated an iconic piece of Ribble Valley history and given this traditional community inn a new alter ego as a stylish restaurant “You’ll find no pretentious foam, dots or swipes on our plates, just honest, high-quality food cooked and presented the way it should be by a young, knowledgeable, personality-led team.”