Back in October 2000 a man had a vision of what he wanted to do when he bought a pub which had been boarded up and closed following a number years of chequered history. That pub was The Swan at Whiston situated in 6 acres of grounds at the edge of the village.
That man was James Davies who became known to all as Jim, a well known and respected landlord. A lot of hard work went into building up the business as it is today with Jim in the early days, going off to do his daytime job with Severn Trent then returning home to run the pub in the evening, often finishing in the early hours of the morning.
There were setbacks along the way including a fire in 2008 when the chimney in the bar became porous, sparks got into the loft and set fire to the felt and subsequently the roof. That night resulted in Jim and customers on the roof with a hose pipe until the local fire brigade from Brewood arrived. Obviously when the fire was under control they were offered free beer, but unfortunately they were unable to take up the offer!
The original parts of the building date back to 1593, being timber framed with huge ex-ships’ timbers, watlle and daub infill. The building has been extended at various times but Jim always maintained a separate bar which continues to be very popular.
Sadly Jim passed away in February (2011) at the age of 40, after a long illness, but his good work is being carried on with the help of all the staff and also Jims parents Mike and Helen, who are now running the pub on behalf of his children, Hannah and Jack.
Holdens Mild and Bitter are the two regular ales in both the bar and lounge with a wide selection of constantly changing Real Cask Ales. There can also be up to 10 different Real Ciders available but they do sell out rapidly being a rare commodity in the area.
The pub also has a reputation for fine food, with the aim of being different to the usual chain pub. They don’t do ‘Fast Food” just food as fast as they can. Much of the home cooked food is sourced locally, including eggs from their own chickens and pork from pigs reared on the land.
The pub over the years has built up a solid trade of regulars who also come together to help stage and support events to raise money, for local charities including the Katherine House Hospice where Jim received treatment. The Swan is also a popular haunt for walkers, cyclists, real ale enthusiasts and families who enjoy the laid back atmosphere and when the sun’s out the beautiful surrounding scenery.
It is a fitting tribute to Jim that The Swan has been nominated as Heart of Staffordshire Pub of the Year 2011 by CAMRA. Jim won Pub of the Month three times since being featured in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide every year since selection in 2002/2003. The Swan is also the first recipient of the Cider Pub of the Year 2011 award. The awards were presented at the Staffordshire Beer Festival on 28th July.