A Burnley pub has beaten off competition from across the country to be named the UK’s best sports pub by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars.
The Thornton Arms, located on Brownside Road in Burnley, claimed the coveted prize at a gala celebration night in Liverpool from football personality and broadcaster, Chris Kamara, after impressing a swathe of judges.
Having been renovated by new licensees and sisters Jaimie and Lauren Hopwood - with the help of Jaimie’s husband, Gavin Fernavs - the pub’s new identity as a sports hub was cited as a major factor in the pub’s transformation from a rundown local to a thriving community centre.
The pub was in a sorry state when Jaimie and Lauren took over, but - convinced of its potential - they undertook a £20,000 refurbishment. With the help of regulars and their dad, John, they upgraded the cellar to serve cask ales, added barista quality coffee and launched a menu of home cooked pub grub prepared by their mum, Carol.
“The Thornton Arms is proof of the enduring popularity of the great British pub,” said Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars’ Managing Director. “Its focus on sports takes it into another league, offering local people the chance to watch events in a brilliant atmosphere without having to leave Burnley.”
Wowing the judges since taking over 18 months ago, Jaimie and Lauren have installed Sky and BT Sports, added three screens positioned to enable different events to be shown simultaneously, put in a state-of-the-art sound system, and launched a myriad of teams including darts, pool, netball, rounders, and golf.
Staff also work to benefit Burnley as a whole. The Thornton Arms runs away coaches for Burnley FC, seeing off supporters with breakfast, and is an away supporters friendly pub for visiting teams - giving them use of the pub’s function room - and hosts meetings and fundraising events for Fulledge Colts.
Gavin has even built an arena for the local Riding for the Disabled to enable them to ride year round and the pub provides Saturday morning snacks for users.
“We’re delighted,” said Jaimie. “We wanted to create somewhere the community could meet and have a great time and we knew that sports was important to them. They’ve supported us every step of the way. It’s great recognition of everyone’s efforts and hard work.”