THE leaseholder of a Kendal pub has extended a welcome to townsfolk to go and have a pint in his new beer garden.

Peter Nicholson, who runs the New Inn on Highgate, invested £20,000 in doing up the yard at the back of the hostelry to reflect its past.

“I have been looking into the history of the place and it had a stable at the back for 80 horses at one time,” he said.

“Of course with the advent of coaches, horse-drawn coaches, it was than used for building coaches.”

Mr Nicholson has themed the yard accordingly, with updates including turning the old smoking shelter into a ‘barn’ complete with stable door and straw bales.

He accepts it is a risky time to have invested the money in a new beer garden, with the hospitality trade reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but said:

“It’s the old adage, it’s the fittest that survive.

“You can’t just rest on your laurels thinking ‘people will come in’.

“There’s a lot more businesses out there fighting for a lot less customers.”

He said by investing in the beer garden he was hoping his pub would have ‘more attraction’ and would entice customers in.

Mr Nicholson, 63, formerly a builder, is also placing a great emphasis on live music, hosting bands at weekends - last Saturday saw the pub welcome South Lakeland four-piece Every Cloud, while Sunday was the turn of blues-rock band The Thieving Magpies.

However, despite the music and the beer garden, business has been no more than steady, but is picking up as the weeks go by.

“Initially it was pretty slow, the first weekend,” said Mr Nicholson.

“Then it started building up.

“It has improved every week.

“I could certainly fit a lot more people in.”

The New Inn is currently open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.