When the pub was put on the market in May 2016, a 498-signature petition was generated by locals against the pub’s closure.
A spokesman for Stonegate said the pubco "stepped in" and has now transformed the pub into Walton’s first big high street sports-viewing amenity, "modernising its look and introducing music while protecting its real ale reputation", having been entered in in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for four consecutive years.
I love this pub and I love Walton so when Stonegate walked in and said they were prepared to invest such a huge sum of money, completely transforming the look of the pub, I couldn’t believe our luck.
– Matt Lettington, manager
The Mayor of Elmbridge officially opened the pub on Friday 22 September with brewers from Hogs Back Brewery, Windsor and Eton Brewery, Twickenham Fine Ales and Surrey Hills Brewery "emphasising the continued focus on real ales".
Matt Lettington, manager of four years, who was retained along with other staff during the acquisition, said: “I love this pub and I love Walton so when Stonegate walked in and said they were prepared to invest such a huge sum of money, completely transforming the look of the pub, I couldn’t believe our luck.
“We’re proud of our beer reputation – that won’t change. But by adding such a modern sports offer, it makes us the best pub on the high street.”
Part of a trend
Along with this purchase in February, Stonegate bought the pub from JDW along with a second, the Jug & Jester, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
The two purchases in February meant that Stonegate acquired a dozen JDW sites within a four-month period.
Stonegate Pub Company is the largest privately held, managed pub operator in the UK, with revenues in excess of £625m, employing about 14,000 people.
The company has 692 pubs, split into two divisions: Branded, which comprises Slug & Lettuce, Yates, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues; and Traditional, which operates Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen and Classic Inns.