A DALTON pub has been given a new lease of life following a change of ownership and a swift autumn renovation.

The Red Lion had been up for sale for around a year when new owners, Paul and Chas Bell, stepped in.

They aim to lead the business in a new direction, hoping to see a roaring trade return to the Market Street premises.

The pub went to auction after the former landlord and landlady, Nicky and Dru Royle, ended trading in August.

Mr and Mrs Bell have run former competitor, Dalton’s Brown Cow Inn at Goose Green, for more than 30 years.

Deciding to keep the name, Mr and Mrs Bell reopened the Red Lion last weekend, coinciding with Dalton town centre’s Christmas lights switch-on.

Mr Bell said: “The Red Lion was an acquisition we felt we had to make. We have to try and keep this place going to prevent another local pub from having to close down and potentially for the site to be sold off to build new flats or something similar.”

The former owners, Mr and Mrs Royle, spoke to The Mail about the challenges facing the pub trade in the current climate days before the pair called last orders on the premises for the last time towards the end of summer.

In August, Mrs Royle said: “The pub industry is really struggling. People used to go round town on pub crawls but it seems like fewer and fewer of them are doing it now. It’s really sad it’s come to this.”

New owner Mr Bell recognised some of the challenges ahead for his new venture, saying: “We have spent a lot of time and hard work over the last four weeks, carrying out a lot of the work ourselves with family and work colleagues from The Brown Cow chipping in.

“There are lots of challenges for pubs currently with wholesale prices constantly increasing plus large business rates to find. But hopefully we can run the two businesses together and they complement each other going forward. “We have the pool table back in and 4 real ales on tap, so hopefully it will appeal to people locally.

“So, if you’re in or passing through Dalton, you can grab a meal down the Brown Cow and then walk it off and have a few beers or a coffee up at The Red Lion.”