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Inside tale of the Preston pub saved from demolition to become an oasis of good food and drink

Posted on - 23rd May, 2024 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Food & Drink, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Proud Preston, Pubs, Restaurants in Preston, University campus
Richard Fisher-Godwin, one of the Moorbrook owners, behind the bar
Richard Fisher-Godwin behind the bar in 2014

It may be one of Preston’s most iconic boozers – but tomorrow will mark ten years since The Moorbrook opened under its current manager.

An extensive, but respectful, renovation in 2014 came after the pub was taken on by the same people that operate The Ferret, The New Continental and now PLAU, making up a group of some of Preston’s favourite venues. 

Richard Fisher-Godwin has been there from the start as manager and later took over the full running of the business. And it was at that point that the current version of The Moorbrook – complete with the pizza menu it is well-known for – became a reality. 

Read more: Owner of closed Preston cocktail bar hopes nightlife can survive intense pressures

“When this story started 10 years ago, I would have never expected to still be here,” Richard told Blog Preston.

“I came back into the pub trade a year after leaving it to take on a management job at The Moorbrook working for the owners whom I had previously worked with at The Continental for over five years.

“I had been a big part of their beer festivals and had acquired a lot of knowledge around the UK beer scene. In the end, this was ultimately what secured me the position at The Moorbrook as the owner’s vision was to make it Preston’s leading cask and craft beer establishment.”

The pub is well-frequented by Preston North End fans on match-days, and even organises a coach for away fixtures. That relationship with those fans is one of the first indicators Richard got that the business was viable.

The Moorbrook is popular with North End fans on match days. Pic Lisa Brown
The Moorbrook is popular with North End fans on match days. Pic Lisa Brown

“I remember the first home friendly of that following season against Liverpool at home. We were warned by some fans that this had once been a busy pub on match days, but nothing could have prepared us for what happened that day. 

“There were just the two of us on the bar, and by the end of the two-hour battering, there wasn’t a clean glass in the building.”

An opportunity to take on The Running Pump in Catforth almost led to Richard leaving The Moorbrook and a conversation with the owners led to him taking on the wider business and fully implementing his vision for the pub. 

Pizzas, from a proper pizza oven, have been such a big part of the offering at The Moorbrook in recent years that it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t the case. 

Regular specials have included an nduja sausage pizza with a vodka sauce base, a Star Wars themed pizza called Java The Hut and others taking in inspirations from around the world. They became particularly popular during lockdown when Richard could be seen delivering pizza and jugs of beer to hungry Prestonians. 

Richard also expanded the keg lines from five to nine and introduced three extra cask lines – bringing the total of rotating beers up to 17. 

A Butter Chicken-inspired pizza from The Moorbrook
A Butter Chicken-inspired pizza from The Moorbrook

The Moorbrook will be celebrating ten years in its current form with celebrations running from 24-26 May. Expect DJs, live music and pizza. 

Richard added: “We’ve grown what was once a small old-school boozer, on the edge of demolition, into an oasis of great food and drink and a place where people of all ages and walks of life are made to feel welcomed every day.

“I believe that this is the start of another new era for The Moorbrook and I am looking forward to what happens next – hopefully everyone can still be celebrating this glorious establishment in another ten years.”

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This story was made possible by support from you, our readers, and a host of organisations in the city, through our Crowdfund Lancashire appeal, which unlocked support from the Lancashire Culture and Sport Fund provided by Lancashire County Council. You can see all our coverage and, if you know of an arts project or event in the city we should be covering, send details to contactus@blogpreston.co.uk.

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