£1m revamp at former 'cannabis factory' pub

By Robert Mann

- Last updated on GMT

High expectations: a derelict pub that was used as a cannabis factory is set to return to its former glory
High expectations: a derelict pub that was used as a cannabis factory is set to return to its former glory
A disused pub that was raided by police after a tip-off it was a site for cannabis production is set to reopen following a big investment.

The Fox & Hounds pub in Barley, Hertfordshire – which closed in 2012 – was raided by police in October 2016 following reports it had been turned into a cannabis factory. 

At the time of the tip-off, a police spokesperson confirmed that officers had found and seized plants on each floor of the 17th century watering hole.

The Grade II-listed pub has since been acquired by childhood friends Robin Skidmore and property developer Colin Blundell – who is now overseeing the development of the building.

Experienced additions

And, in a bid to restore the pub to its former glory, the duo have teamed up with acclaimed chef Brett Barnes, who will be overseeing the refurbishment and the day-to-day running of the gastropub, alongside general manager John McKitterick. 

Barnes, who has worked in numerous renowned restaurants including the Michelin-starred Star Inn, Harome; Arbutus; Mark Hix's flagship HIX; and the world-famous Fäviken in Sweden; has developed a seasonal menu that will change daily, combining pub favourites with more progressive dishes.

The chef-patron spoke of his excitement ahead of the pub's grand reopening in early April. 

"I've been looking to open my own restaurant for some time so when Robin and Colin came to me with this opportunity, I knew there was no way I could turn it down," exclaimed Barnes.

"The Fox & Hounds has been a focal point of the community for centuries, but sadly its been closed for nearly seven years and has required some serious tender loving care to restore it to its 350-year-old glory," he said.

Huge overhaul 

The newly converted gastropub will make its dishes from produce sourced from the surrounding area, as well as ingredients grown in the pub’s own garden.

It will also create around 20 jobs in the area, with the team already looking to recruit kitchen, waiting and cleaning staff.

“An incredible amount of work has gone into the pub since we started the refurbishment and things are starting to take shape,” added Barnes.

“We’ve designed a really exciting menu that combines traditional pub classics with more progressive and seasonal dishes, all made using locally sourced ingredients.

"A number of partnerships with local suppliers are already in place and we’ll be announcing more in the coming weeks.”

Related topics Other operators