Related tags Pub Tobacco smoking Atmosphere Smoking

Pub of the Year This award, sponsored by Vent-Axia, aims at recognising the pub that has made the most effort to comply with the "Smoking in Public...

Pub of the Year This award, sponsored by Vent-Axia, aims at recognising the pub that has made the most effort to comply with the "Smoking in Public Places Charter".

Judges were looking for information about the pub's clean-air policy, together with evidence of the benefits to staff and customers Airport Hotel ­ Wythenshawe, Lancashire The Airport Hotel had two good reasons to insist on a state-of-the-art air extraction and ventilation system.

Clearing the interior of cigarette smoke is obviously one, but it's not until you see the pub's location that the second emerges.

Within a stone's throw of the Robinson's Brewery pub, aircraft taxi past on their way to the main runway of Manchester International Airport.

It means the fumes from jet aviation fuel attacking the pub from the outside cause almost as many problems as smokers sitting inside the building.

The two problems presented designers from Vent-Axia with an unusual challenge when they began devising a new air extraction and ventilation system for the pub during a major refurbishment at the beginning of 2002.

One of the firm's Intro 600 air-input systems was installed around the bar serving area, with extractor fans positioned strategically around the interior walls of the pub.

Auto sensors and pub controllers are automatically programmed to operate according to the prevailing atmospheric conditions at any given time.

The impact of the system on the pub's interior is evident as soon as customers walk through the door.

The system produces a totally neutral atmosphere, free of cigarette smoke and odours, and minus any other tell-tale smells that go with running a pub.

Pub manageress Pam Shotton says the system is so good that it had made the interior atmosphere at the hotel a major talking point.

"The pub is almost unique in terms of the atmospheric problems it has to cope with, but the new system has solved them all," she said.

"It is so good that we don't even need to have a no-smoking area.

The climate is so customer-friendly that we are now attracting an increasing number of non-smokers who are totally happy with the atmosphere.

The system has also managed to rid the pub of harmful aviation fuel fumes that used to invade the building as jet after jet trundles alongside the pub garden before take-off.

"In summer, the doors are often open and we had a dreadful problem because the engines blew directly on to the pub when the aircraft made their final turn on to the runway.

"The mixture of tobacco smoke and kerosene fumes was absolutely horrendous at times, but now it is all a thing of the past."

Pam continues: "I'd guess about 75% of our customers are smokers, but the atmosphere is now so good that you wouldn't believe we allowed smoking on the premises.

We had a bad reputation in the past, but now the Airport is almost the equivalent to a non-smoking environment.

"Smokers and non-smokers now mix happily without a problem and, in the family room, children can sit with their parents in a totally fresh atmosphere."

Robinson's area manager, David Nixon, says the brewery worked closely with Vent-Axia over the installation of the system.

He notes: "The new relaxed family atmosphere in the pub is a reflection of the way we work.

"We take our duty of care towards our staff and customersvery seriously and the new system has improved conditions foreveryone."

White Swan ­ Swaythling, Hampshire Two words describe how manager Declan O'Gorman feels about the improvement in air quality at the White Swan since a new ventilation system was installed ­ "absolutely fantastic".

The Scottish & Newcastle Retail outlet, which occupies a prime location alongside the river Itchen in the Southampton suburb of Swaythling, was given the clean air treatment in the summer of 2001.

It took contractor Fan Installation Services about four days to fitthe system at a cost of between £18,000to £20,000.

Declan, who with wife Catriona took over the pub two years ago, recalls what it was like previously.

"In summer, you could see clouds of smoke hanging around."

He says that, at times, the atmosphere was so thick with smoke that customers would say: "I'm not bringing my kids in here".

"Now, when I come down in the morning, it's like heaven," he adds.

He has also noticed that smoke does not drift from a designated smoking area into areas occupied by non-smokers.

Prior to the installation, Declan says the pub had to open doors and windows to get some air movement within the Country Carvery outlet.

The large restaurant area caters for an average of around 2,500 covers a week.

This can rise to more than 4,000 during the hectic weeks when the sun shines and the pub acts as a magnet to those wanting to eat at the riverside location.

The restaurant has been a designated no-smoking area for a number of years, but had suffered from being very stuffy and humid, particularly around the food servery.

Two inoperable roof fans did nothing to ease the problem and the existing air-conditioning

plantcouldn't cope.

This has now been solved with two new roof fans, one located above the carvery hotspot, to bring in fresh air, while two new wall extractor fans ensure stale air is expelled in double-quick time.

Declan adds: "The new system even helps our air conditioning because it doesn't have to work so hard."

He says the transformation has been incredible and has beenwelcomed by staff and customers alike by adding to "the wonderful experience of eating out at the White Swan".

It is not just those manning the carvery who have felt the benefits of the investment.

Employees behind the bar also have fresh airdirecting smoke away from where they work.

Declan declares: "Having tried a no-smoking at the bar' policy, we now find that this is no longer necessary with the system that has been installed behindthe bar."

Another area to benefit is the imposing restaurant extension/function room located at one end of the building.

Although this room is a designated non-smoking area when used by diners, the ventilation system has been designed so that it can cope with smokers when used as a function room.

Throughout the pub, controls and air-quality sensors look after defined zones.

The sensors automatically trip in to give extra ventilation should a particular area become smoky.

The standard ventilation rates can also be manually over-ridden if staff want to give an extra boost of fresh air.

When the system was first installed, two training sessions were held to explain the principles to staff.

Only employees with suitable training are allowed to operate the controls.

Declan reckons it is difficult to quantify how much extra trade has been generated as a result of the improved air quality at the White Swan, except to say he knows his pub is attracting customers from other venues.

He adds: "We are one of the few pubs in the area with ventilation installed to comply with the Air Charter standards.

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