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Village pub’s history celebrated on anniversary

John Henderson, left, has revamped the Cross Keys in the two years he has owned it, and has employed Gordon Ramsay-trained chef David Malcolm

John Henderson, left, has revamped the Cross Keys in the two years he has owned it, and has employed Gordon Ramsay-trained chef David Malcolm

Two hundred years of publicans and pubgoers is being celebrated later this month at The Ancrum Cross Keys with a weekend of events.

Owner John Henderson is proud of the village pub’s history, and is hoping to see lots of current and former regulars enjoy a special reunion event on Friday, August 22.

John said: “This is for anyone who has ever drunk in the pub and anyone that has an association with the place.”

That event will be followed on the Saturday with what John describes as a “musical extravaganza”, and on the Sunday by a family picnic and music.

“We have got a place here with 200 continuous years’ history as a pub, and there are not many establishments that can claim that,” John said.

He has owned the Cross Keys for just over two years and has made numerous changes to ensure that it will continue to serve local people, and visitors, for many more years to come.

John said: “We have completely revamped the pub, moved the kitchen, created a new dining space, added a new front bar, restored the garden and created a new terrace out the front, and even employed a Gordon Ramsay-trained chef.

“The idea was to make it a destination to which people would travel because of the quality of it all, but we wanted to do it sensitively because what it had before was bulging with character and characters that we didn’t want to lose.”

He added: “Pubs today have to become more than just watering holes, because our biggest competition comes from 40-inch televisions and supermarket takeaways – we have to give people a real reason to leave their homes.

“We are going to be opening all day within the month, doing coffee and cakes, and just making the pub more accessible. A village pub needs to be the hub of the village, but to do that you need to be creative and not just do the traditional pub things.”

Speaking about the purchase of the pub in July 2012, John, who also owns Scottish Borders Brewery and the Born in the Borders visitor centre, said: “Working with the brewery, I delivered to around 300 pubs across the country, and I never came across a pub with as much potential as the Cross Keys – its character, history, location and the potential to do things with the building itself was huge.”

He added: “In the old traditional sense, a pub was a melting pot of people, and the Cross Keys is still exactly that.

“We have just tried to bring it into the 21st century, so that it’s ready for another 200 years!”

 

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