The show will go on at Red Lion Theatre

New managers of the Red Lion with customers including representatives from the town's theatre
New managers of the Red Lion with customers including representatives from the town's theatre

On-going fears about the future of Horncastle’s theatre appear to be over - thanks to the new managers of the town’s Red Lion pub.

The pub has been bought by Yorkshire based brewery Samuel Smith.

It ends speculation about the future of the site which is also ‘home’ to the town Red Lion Theatre Company.

Previous pub owners - a South Yorkshire based brewery - had put the site up for sale.

That, in turn, raised doubts about the future of the theatre as there was no legal lease in place for their building.

Performances were put on hold earlier this year and theatre officials admitted they might even have to consider moving to another site - even though their premises had some protection as a registered ‘Community Asset’.

However, the Red Lion pub re-opened on Saturday and management duo Jacky and Andy Melling say they want the theatre to stay and form a central part of their plans.

Jacky said: “We know how important the theatre is to Horncastle.

“We want to be part of the community. It’s a great town. Why would we want the theatre to leave? We are more than happy to work with them.”

Theatre spokesman and town councillor Brian Burbage described the news as ‘fantastic’.

He said the theatre wanted to hold more talks with the pub’s new managers to formalise a long-term arrangement.

He said: “We have met (the managers) and they seem very supportive.

“It is a relief after everything we have been through over the last few months. It looks like we can now get on with things. It’s fantastic.”

The Mellings are from the Midlands and say they have been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome they have received.

It is the first time the couple have run a pub together but Jacky has extensive experience in the hospitality trade.

The pair have lived on a narrow boat for the last six years and say they are looking forward to putting down ‘strong roots on firmer ground’.

Jacky added: “We have some exciting plans but it will be a case of settling into things.

“We’ve worked really hard for the last two weeks getting the pub ready and the builders have been here even longer.

“They are difficult times for all pubs but we’re ready for the challenge.”

A specialist ‘team’ will decorate the front of the Grade II listed property. and the couple plan to offer food after work once the kitchens is finished.

finished in four to five weeks..