For Russell Towers at The Chapel at Whitehouse Street, the pub should be a special place.
It’s not about loud music, big-screen TVs and mass-produced lagers for the 42-year-old and his soon-to-be regulars.
The Chapel is a labour of love for Russell, his wife Sarah, and his dad Ian.
Ian Towers, Russell Towers and Sarah Towers at The Chapel
Russell took on the former church in Newport, built in 1890 – 14 years before its larger neighbour, most famously known to most in the town as the Pheonix Squash Club.
The church was later used as a community centre and youth club, but had fallen into disrepair before Russell and his family snapped it up.
A three-year renovation saw his family business, Cleveland Retail Systems, eventually take up part of the building, with space for a large community area and function room.
But it’s the former chapel itself which has undergone the biggest transformation.
A long-time beer lover, Russell wanted to build a pub he would enjoy coming in as a customer.
“Me and my dad have been passionate about real ale since I was young, so I’ve been a bit like a kid in a sweet shop approaching all my favourite breweries and getting some amazing beers in,” said Russell.
“We’ve also spent time and money to ensure our beer cellar is presenting drinks as perfectly as we can.”
IPAs, pales, stouts and porters, sours and goses, blondes, red ales and more are available – and its house lager, brewed by Hartlepool brewery Camerons, as well as a premium German lager ABK Hell. Appropriate, in a chapel.
A range of non-alcoholic beers, spirits and cider is also on offer for customers to enjoy in the renovated bar area.
Original church pews have been retained for seating, while some have been repurposed to build a bar.
The wooden floor has been completely restored.
A hymn board now displays a list of the guest ales on offer, while original church curtains have been used to embroider cushions.
And outside is a large, secure courtyard which is used as a beer garden, with a separate garden at the back ready to be developed for events.
“It feels brilliant to be finally open,” said Russell, following a planning wrangle and a range of Covid restrictions which delayed it opening its doors.
“The atmosphere has been fantastic, I think people who’ve come in have enjoyed themselves. We’re aiming to be friendly and welcoming.
“It is also good for Newport. We don’t have a pub here, we’ve had great support from councillors and the community. We’ve tidied up the area around here, there’s regular litter picks in the area. It’s really exciting.”
The pub is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3pm to 10pm, from midday to 11pm on Saturday and from 12pm until 8pm on Sunday.