A historic Clitheroe hotel and pub that hosted a pivotal moment in the development of the jet engine has been put up for sale. Its proprietor Terry Joy has instructed Blacks Business Brokers to market the Swan & Royal Hotel with an asking price of £99,950 to take over the lease plus annual rent of £47,000.
The Swan & Royal, which dates back to the 1600s, has hosted guests including Mahatma Ghandi, Sir Winston Churchill and the inventor of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle. In December 1942 it was the venue of the “five-shilling meal” at which Stanley Hooker and Ernest Hives of Rolls Royce agreed with Spencer Wilks of the Rover Car Company that Rolls Royce would take over top-secret work on the development of the jet engine, thus making aviation history.
Located on Castle Street in the centre of Clitheroe, the Swan & Royal boasts six en-suite bedrooms on its first floor, as well as a ground-floor pub/restaurant and function room. The second floor of the property houses a three-bedroom owner’s apartment.
Mr Joy, who has worked in the licensed trade since he was 24 years old, took over ownership of the business in 2002. Now nearing his 70th birthday, he wishes to retire and pass the Swan & Royal on to a new operator.
The business, which will remain open as usual until a new owner is found, currently employs 15 staff, who would stay on following a change of ownership. In its most recent financial year the Swan & Royal generated sales of £490,000.
The pub enjoys significant passing trade as well as loyal local custom. It is also a regular stop on ghost-hunting tours attracted by stories of the premises being haunted by a tragic young bride who took her own life following the death of her husband in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.
The function room, meanwhile, is used for events including weddings, business meetings and Masonic dinners. Mr Joy has just completed a major refurbishment of the pub and function room, representing an investment of £50,000.
The Swan & Royal’s long history is reflected in a list of guests that includes not just statesmen and industrial grandees but also rock stars – notably Jethro Tull, who visited during their 1960s heyday. Other famous guests include the activist Lindi St Clair, aka Miss Whiplash, who used the hotel as the base for her colourful but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to become MP for Ribble Valley in the constituency’s 1991 byelection.
John Gaskell, director at Blacks Business Brokers, said, “This is a superb opportunity for a new owner with experience in the hospitality profession to take over a successful business with a fascinating history and, allegedly, a ghost – although our client has never seen it! There is also real scope to build on what Mr Joy has achieved by, for example, updating the letting rooms to boutique hotel standard and enhancing the food offering.
“The location is fantastic, right in the centre of bustling, affluent, Clitheroe, and the property also has its own car park for hotel guests. This is a business with exceptional potential and I expect strong interest now the word is out.”
All enquiries should be directed to Blacks Business Brokers on 0333 370 0000, quoting reference 6491.