Independent family brewer and pub company Shepherd Neame has reopened its historic pub in the beating heart of Blackheath Village, The Crown, following a £750,000 transformation.

The former 16th century coaching inn has undergone a seven-week refurbishment which has introduced a stylish new look and feel while also lovingly retaining its unique features.

The pub’s traditional heritage has been celebrated throughout and now has a fresh, modern take on Edwardian décor, with a rich palette of dark blues, browns and vintage-inspired floral wallpapers.

Welcoming drinkers in, as well as surveying the refurbished outside seating area at the front of the pub, is a new traditional swing sign featuring a crown, the design for which took its inspiration from vintage signs on display inside Shepherd Neame’s Old Brewery Store at its Faversham brewery.

The Crown has been fully redecorated inside, with gleaming newly-sanded floors, imposing fireplaces, and leather benches, along with Edwardian tiling and rich, floral fabrics on the upholstery, providing a classic but contemporary feel.

There is a nod to Shepherd Neame’s long brewing history, from the introduction of period pump clips right down to the vintage beer mats featuring The Crown’s new logo.

There are now period tiles in burnished tones on the ceilings, in keeping with the atmosphere of a traditional London pub, while a piano has been installed in the side bar area to be used for weekly sing-a-longs – and impromptu customer performances!

Outside, the building has had a stunning refresh, with a standout gold theme incorporated in the brewer’s logo and crowns around the site. 

More local artistry has also been employed by James Titcher of Aero Arts Graffiti who has decorated an external wall with a quirky depiction of an off-duty royal sentry, enjoying a pint.

The project has also seen a new lease of life for the first floor area, which has been crowned with the new name of the King Charles III Dining Room, as a tribute to the new King following his coronation last year, named through a competition which was won by Crown regular Lee Tester.

As an authentic home of real ale, the pub will serve a wide selection of award-winning craft ales on draught, in glass and pewter tankards. 

And helping ensure an ice cold beer for customers is state-of-the-art energy efficient equipment now installed in the cellar.

Customers can enjoy a wide range of ales and lagers, including one of Shepherd Neame’s Classic Collection draught keg beers, Bishops Finger, along with premium wines and spirits. 

A delicious new menu of homemade traditional bar snacks and pub classics has also been introduced, but with a contemporary twist, using the finest locally sourced produce.

Managing Director, Pubs, Jonathon Swaine, said: “This stunning refurbishment of The Crown, Blackheath, is part of Shepherd Neame’s ongoing investment in our estate.

“We have drawn on our history as Britain’s oldest brewer to bring a new look to a popular pub in a perfect part of Blackheath Village, which is a spectacular mix of old and new. We look forward to welcoming customers back in for them to admire the work we have put in over a pint.”

The pub, led by General Manager Jan Mullerson, reopens to customers this evening (Friday, February 23), while an official opening, led by Chief Executive Jonathan Neame, with local dignitaries and charity representatives, will be held on Wednesday, February 28.

Useyourlocal raises a glass to GigPig music partnership

A collaboration between useyourlocal and music marketplace GigPig has been struck to boost footfall in pubs and bars across the UK.

Useyourlocal, the UK’s leading platform for pubs and bars, provides a single source of information for punters looking to find out everything they want to know about every one of the 42,904 locals nationwide. Until now, any live music events taking place in those venues needed to be manually added to the website by the operator themselves.

The new partnership with GigPig, which works with more than 6,000 artists and 650 venues nationwide to host thousands of live gigs in grassroots venues weekly, will mean that any gigs booked through GigPig will automatically appear on useyourlocal, without the licensee having to do a thing.

Live music is proven to boost footfall for hospitality venues. The Live Music Index, an industry-first report published in autumn 2023, found that 79% of venues see increases to revenue and footfall (79%) when gigs are staged. In particular, gigs can see spend per visit rise by 64%, dwell

time by 61% and footfall by 36%.

Useyourlocal’s audience of up to 1 million monthly visitors are all in the very moment of looking to go to the pub. There are currently more than 140,000 useyourlocal members signed up to follow one or more local pubs and receive regular updates from them about what’s happening, where and when. By seamlessly adding these upcoming live gigs to every pub’s page, each venue significantly increases their chances of those consumers seeing what’s on and visiting their pub.

Both useyourlocal and GigPig are on a mission to attract more people to visit pubs and bars nationwide to support millions of hospitality jobs and ensure cities, towns and villages have a thriving night time economy.

Michael Forster, CEO of GigPig, said: “I’m really pleased to partner with useyourlocal because it paves the way for more customers to support their local venues and artists. Venues save time, safe in the knowledge that live gigs booked via our platform will be seen by an engaged and interested audience wanting to support their local. Boosting their footfall at a time when the cost-of-living continues to bite is crucial and we want to do all we can to support the hospitality sector.

“Often artists live within a 10-20 mile radius from gigging venues, so customers are also supporting homegrown talent by heading to live music gigs at their local. That support is hugely important for the music industry and gives professional artists the chance to carve out a great career. This is an exciting collaboration and I can’t wait to see how it develops.”

Stuart Mills, Founder of useyourlocal, said: “We know that live music is a massive attraction for customers visiting our website, so this is a hugely positive step forward in making sure that we are driving up footfall for these pubs and bars. Our mission has always been to get people to visit their local, more often. We’re delighted that this partnership makes it as seamless as possible for GigPig’s venues to promote their upcoming events to the widest audience possible, and it’s a brilliant bonus for those artists registered on GigPig too.”

Dave Finn, Landlord at The Queen’s Head in Great Whittington, added: “It’s great to see our gig listings going live through this partnership and we are already starting to see new people visit because they’ve seen the events online. We are supportive of any initiative that seamlessly connects our venue to potential customers who enjoy live music. This partnership has the potential to have a lasting positive impact on the pub and bar sector with relatively low input from venues once a gig is confirmed.” Founded in 2022, GigPig is the UK’s fastest growing music marketplace and booking platform providing venues with a streamlined way to search, book and manage entertainment in-house, while offering artists a free platform to find, play and get paid for gigs. GigPig has been the catalyst for staging more than 18,000 live music gigs in pubs, bars, restaurants to date.

Thatchers Cider becomes the Official Cider Partner of The O2

From February visitors to the world-famous The O2 arena will be able to purchase award-winning ciders from Thatchers for the first time. The news comes as the Somerset cider maker is announced as the Official Cider Partner of The Oin a deal brokered by AEG Global Partnerships.

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With the iconic entertainment venue recording its strongest ever year for ticket sales in 2023 selling over 2.5 million tickets, Thatchers will be bringing its much-loved range of ciders on a category exclusive arrangement to each of the main arena bars. 

The world’s busiest arena, The O2 will be hosting over 200 shows and concerts in 2024 building on its stellar year in 2023, including performances such as Take That, Girls Aloud, Country to Country, and Michael McIntyre. Its hospitality offering is an integral part of visitor experience.

Thatchers has a range of much loved and best-selling premium cider brands. Available on draught will be its flagship Gold, together with its fruit flavoured Apple & Blackcurrant and Blood Orange ciders.

Thatchers Cider is celebrating its 120-year anniversary in 2024. And with ciders that continue to shake up the market, the family run, independent business has recorded its highest ever share of the cider market in 2023. 1

The British cider maker has added more volume to draught cider than any other producer in the last 12 months, with Thatchers Gold having the highest rate of sale of any draught cider in UK Managed and Free trade outlets. 2

Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cider maker comments, “We’re excited beyond words to be serving our ciders at The O2. This world-famous venue plays host to global acts and events, with fans travelling from across the UK and Europe to enjoy the very best entertainment. It’s therefore fitting that the very best cider is now available in the bars for customers to enjoy, adding to their experience of memorable hospitality at The O2.”

Visitors to The O2 can expect to see the new, iconic, Thatchers Balloon Bar at the venue on selected occasions during the year, as well as out-of-home media and digital activation.

Martin continues, “We share a commitment with The Ofor a greener future, and in particular their values of driving change to make more sustainable choices. We believe that meaningful, sustainable practices, such as using 100% renewable electricity  to make our cider, are part and parcel of being a responsible drinks producer.”  

Laura Dignan, Director, Partnership Sales at AEG Europe says: “Thatchers is one of the UK’s most popular ciders, and with this new partnership we are bringing a world-class cider into a world-class venue. Their new Balloon Bar activation offers another way for people to engage with the brand, playing a role in achieving our shared goal of elevating fans experiences to the best they can be. Thatchers, The Oand AEG Global Partnerships share common values that we’re certain will make the partnership a success.”

This partnership was forged between Thatchers and AEG Global Partnerships, which oversees sponsorships across AEG’s global portfolio of assets, including The O2, and sits behind some of the most iconic brand partnerships in the entertainment industry.


Independent family brewer and pub company Shepherd Neame is launching the third in its series of popular photographic competitions.

Following the success of its first photography contest in 2022, an Autumn/Winter competition was held last year, and it is today launching one for Spring 2024, with fantastic prizes to be won.

To celebrate its current Charity of the Year partnership with FareShare, which fights hunger and food waste, there will be extra marks available for pictures which incorporate food – spring lambs tucking into some breakfast, blue tits picking berries or maybe a tasty treat for your dog while out on a walk.

One winner will receive the top prize of a £150 Shepherd Neame gift card and there will also be four runners-up, each receiving a £25 gift card.

From almost 100 entries submitted for the last competition, the winning image chosen was a fox at Stodmarsh Nature Reserve near Canterbury, taken by Ollie Boughton from Folkestone, securing him the top prize.

Corporate Communications Manager, Kathryn Tye, said: “We were delighted by the fantastic response to our first two photography competitions, and really enjoyed seeing all the excellent and creative entries. We can’t wait to kick off 2024 with more uplifting images.” 

Capture your perfect spring moment and send it to [email protected] with a couple of lines explaining where the photo was taken and any other background information. If there is a Shepherd Neame link, bonus points may also be awarded!

You can enter up to three images by the closing date of Sunday, March 31.

The winning images will also go on show in Shepherd Neame’s brewery reception in Court Street, Faversham.

To find out about Shepherd Neame’s Charity of the Year partnership with FareShare click here:

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