Phil’s happy at the Holts

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HE started in the pub industry as a schoolboy pot-washer.

Now landlord Phil Guest has re-opened one of the area’s best known country pubs with a promise to return it’s former glory.

Twenty years later and he finds himself the new man behind the real ale hand pumps at The Holts Arms in Billinge. . . . .known by generations of locals as “the Foot” because of it’s position at the foot and stop off point for the ancient causeway once linking Manchester and Liverpool.

He is confident that, despite the well earned headlines about the crisis facing parts of the licensed drinks industry, this time the once very popular Marston’s pub is back again “for good.”

And has put his livelihood where his mouth is by funding a £40,000 interior refurbishment on the which finally came to a happy conclusion allowing the Holts Arms to re-open this week.

This included new ladies toilets, new bar and seating upholstery, along with new decor.

The children’s play area has also be rejuvenated.

Mr Guest, 34, says that the historic inn is close to his dream country pub after a working lifetime to date in a string of city and urban ‘locals.’

He is now working on menus ready to relaunch the dining at The Holts’ and has events lined up to entice it’s former regulars back in through the doors.

Particularly now a potential new community have moved into the former Billinge Infirmary site.

Locals have long reckoned the Holts’ cool stone cellars was once used as an emergency overflow mortuary for the hospital in it’s early days.

The pub had been closed for months before Mr Guest finally took on the tenancy.

It was re-opened by Marstons for a period over the New Year but then closed again after a burst in February prompted the need for thorough refurbishment.

The Holts boasts Banks Bitter and the legendary Marston’s Pedigree cask conditioned ales, along with a number of guest ales which will change weekly.

The father of one said: “The industry is in a mess.

“Personally I blame the supermarkets for selling beer at ridiculous prices.

“But if we give up on it without a fight we are all out of a job.

“You have to keep going but having said that I don’t take on pubs as a hobby - they have to have a potential.”