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The Foresters Arms on Sandridge Road in Melksham has fully reopened following a £100,000 four-week refurbishment by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and new licensee Beverley Dempsey, to restore it to its former glory as a great traditional pub.
The Foresters Arms was rundown when Beverley took it over in June. “I’d been looking for a pub for 18 months and knew straightaway it was ‘the one’ for me,” says Beverley.
“It looked unloved but I could see its potential shining through. Residents had been concerned for the pub’s future and have been very supportive throughout the work. My aim is to make the pub into a community hub; a family-friendly place where everyone feels comfortable and can come together.”
Outside, The Foresters Arms has been repainted. Beverly plans to further enhance the exterior with flower baskets and new furniture in the spring, as well as by investing in a children’s play area for the back garden.
Inside work has involved redecorating throughout and replacing the toilets. In the lounge, original features such as wooden beams have been retained, an open fire uncovered and reinstated and the disused bar reopened. A barista quality coffee machine has also been installed, the kitchen upgraded and a restaurant area created to enable the pub to introduce home-cooked food. Produce will be locally sourced wherever possible and opening hours have been extended to 9am for the service of breakfast from Thursday to Saturday.
Beverley is determined to make The Foresters Arms known for its beer as well as its food and has put in a state-of-the-art cellar system to ensure consistently perfect pints. The range of cask ales will be increased and will feature the pub’s own ale, The Foresters Arms.
The Foresters Arms will continue to act as a training venue for the Wiltshire Youth pool team. The refurbishment has included reconditioning the pub’s four pool tables to improve the facilities, as well as adding three darts boards to the games room.
Pub regular and captain of the England Special Needs Blackball Pool Team, Scott Lloyd, who trains in The Foresters Arm’s games room, pulled the revamped pub’s inaugural pint.
Scott said, “I’ve been playing pool at The Foresters Arms for 30 years and can remember the pub in its glory days. The area is crying out for a good local and it’s great Beverley is turning the pub around.”
Scott, who won the Doubles World Championships last October, says practice would have been much harder without The Foresters’ games room. “It’s an important training centre for Melksham. Players would have to travel to Chippenham or Westbury without it.”
In addition to sports, Beverley will be running all the other activities associated with a great local, with fundraisers in aid of The Foresters Arms’ nominated charity, Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The pub will be available for functions and celebrations such as weddings and christenings and local groups will be able to reserve areas for their meetings.
Tim Galligan Star Pubs & Bars operations director said, “We feel fortunate that such a committed and experienced licensee as Beverley has taken on The Foresters Arms as her own and is working with us to revive its fortunes. Heineken is a passionate supporter of the great British pub and is investing in pubs like The Foresters Arms to help them deliver excellent quality, attract customers and thrive at the heart of their communities for years to come.”