What’s next for The Top Lock pub in Whittle-le-Woods?

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It’s the end of an era this week as a long-standing landlord steps down from a real ale lovers’ paradise.

Phil and Susan Entwisle handed over the keys to The Top Lock pub in Whittle-le-Woods, a much-loved watering hole, on Monday.

Today, Tuesday, he takes over management of The Red Lion in Wheelton, a pub which he already owns.

Phil said that “eye-wateringly high” rent and “unaffordable” business rates had ultimately driven them to make the choice to leave.

“It’s going to be quite a shock to the people of Chorley who trip out here half a dozen times in the summer,” he said. “They will see a completely different kind of offering. It will loose its old fashioned quirkiness. Some may be happy with that but to me it’s a soulless atmosphere.”

The couple have been based at The Top Lock for 18 years and marked their departure with a farewell party on Saturday night. The pub was a pioneer of the real ale scene in the Chorley area and was well-known for its curries and live music on a Thursday.

Reminiscing on some of the highlights of his time at the Top Lock, Phil said: “The beer festivals and some of the summers have been really great. It’s a very pleasant place to be and work.”

Owners of The Top Lock, Heineken Star Pubs and Bars, wished Phil well for the future and said the pub would shut briefly following his departure.

A statement the company issued said: “After 18 years at the helm, we are sad to say the licensee of The Top Lock has taken the decision to leave the pub on March 14. We would like to wish him well for the future.

“The Top Lock will then close temporarily whilst some essential maintenance works are carried out. However we are hoping to re-open it again in early April with a local operator who is planning on keeping an exciting and vibrant range of drought cider and lagers along with up to eight different craft ale and lagers on offer at any one time.

“We are aware of the Cask Ale Heritage associated to this pub and have ensured that the operator that takes over The Top Lock not only has exceptionally high retailing standards, but is keen and passionate about offering a varied and high quality range of products moving forward, along with an exciting range of locally produced home cooked quality fayre.”