When one of Todmorden’s historic pubs re-opens at the beginning of March, it will be aiming to offer accommodation for perhaps the first time in living memory.
The Golden Lion, Fielden Square, Rochdale Road, is to be reopened on March 1 by bar owner and local characters, Matthanee Nilavongse - known to all as Gig - of the Three Wise Monkeys, on nearby Water Street.
As well as running the food and drink side of the business, Gig will also be offering accommodation at the Lion by renovating five bedrooms of the old coaching house to create a “quirky, boutique B&B.”
And as an opening day boost, DJs playing music sets will include a spell at the decks by BBC Radio’s Andy Kershaw, who has helped open the nation’s ears to a wide range of music from all corners of the world over three decades.
The Golden Lion is one of the town’s oldest pubs - built in the late 18th century as a coaching inn. a lot of public business, including meetings and inquests, were held on the premises, including meetings or discussions over the founding of the second Stoodley Pike and the now Grade I listed Todmorden Town Hall.
In more recent times it has had major fefurbishments in the mid 1980s and again in the mid 2000s but was closed for two years following the 2012 floods, re-opening after major invesment of around £300,000 from Mood Pubs, part of Leeds-based Mood Developments.
Gig will continue to run the Three Wise Monkeys, hoping the bars and their restaurants will complement each other - while bringing a new experience to Todmorden’s drinkers and diners.
“We’ll be serving locally sourced food, but with a global twist,” she says. “Plus real ales, craft beers, and quality wines.”
The Lion will open for breakfast, later offering home made pie and peas at lunchtime, and global food at night. Roasts will be available on Sundays.
Since opening five years ago, the Monkeys has become a popular music venue, and Gig has similar plans for the Lion, in the pub’s upstairs function room.
“We’ll have an open microphone night every Thursday,” says Gig, “and quality bands and DJs at the weekends.”
A larger than life figure around the town, Gig says she is keen, with the Golden Lion, to put something back into the community which has taken her to its heart.
“We have space for meetings, community groups, workshops, weddings, anything! I intend the Golden Lion to become a focus for Todmorden’s vibrant and creative community, a place where local people feel at home and one at which visitors come to gawp and feel envious - but welcome!”