Preston’s original community pub the Red Lion wins Camra North Herts title – with Baldock’s Orange Tree named best cider pub
- Credit: Archant
The first community-owned pub in Britain is celebrating again after being named the best in North Hertfordshire.
The Red Lion in Preston – which has been owned by the villagers since 1982 – has come up trumps as the Campaign for Real Ale’s best pub in North Herts.
And with the salute coming during a spell of renovation work, landlady and landlord Jo and Ray Lambe are particularly chuffed.
Ray said: “Everyone in the community here is very proud of the pub and they support it. That’s the lifeblood of any pub really, regulars using it.
“We pride ourselves on our food and our beer, so to win now while we’re having this building work is a big bonus and a great pat on the back. We’ve got people coming in on the back of it that we haven’t seen before, so it’s very welcome.
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“We’re running on a shoestring while the new kitchen is put in, but we’re still doing good food and good beer while we wait for the work to be done by mid-May.”
Ray and Jo have been at the pub for eight years. Under previous management, it was North Herts pub of the year in 2000, 2001 and 2005 – also taking the county crown on the last occasion.
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Ray concluded: “It’s a welcome return after a long hiatus.”
The Red Lion is joined in the Herts county finals by the Orange Tree in Baldock’s Norton Road, which Camra North Herts has named cider pub of the year.
Landlord Rob Scahill told the Comet: “It’s a shock, to be honest. We’ve won it before but I didn’t think we were good enough to win it this year. We do try to have a range of local ciders.
“We’re going to celebrate the victory with a cider and sausage festival during Sounds of Baldock, which has moved to late May this year.
“We’re extremely proud to be representing North Herts at county level – we’re a bit nervous, but I think we’ve got quite a good range so we’ll just have to see how we get on.”
The Orange Tree won Camra North Herts pub of the year in 2013 and 2015, and two years ago was also named best in the county.
The Red Lion reclaims the pub of the year crown from the Half Moon in Hitchin, which won the 2016 Hertfordshire title.
The Half Moon also won North Hertfordshire pub of the year in 2014, and three years in a row from 2009 to 2011.
The last Stevenage pub to win was Our Mutual Friend, just off Broadhall Way in Broadwater Crescent, which won three years running from 2006 to 2008.
For more see theredlionpreston.co.uk, theorangetreebaldock.com and camranorthherts.org.uk