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Wincanton pub goes 'back to basics' with Somerset cider house opening

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: March 14, 2013

Paul Wrigglesworth hopes his plans to reopen a pub as a traditional cider house will attract more people to Wincanton’s High Street

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AN HISTORIC pub on Wincanton's High Street is to be revived by returning to Somerset's traditional roots.

Uncle Tom's Cabin – which closed on March 3 – is set to be transformed into a cider house, museum and shop.

It has been taken over by Paul Wrigglesworth, who recently turned The Red Lion into a sports bar.

Mr Wrigglesworth said: "It's all about getting back to basics, and this could really increase the number of customers coming to Wincanton's High Street.

"It was never really on my agenda but when I saw that it had shut I had the vision and decided to go for it.

"The problem with the pub is that it has had the same identity for the last few years.

"I'm a big fan of giving pubs a bit of a niche. There's no point in trying to compete with others in the town.

"I can't find a traditional cider house in the whole of Somerset. I'm hoping that the doors will be open in the next two weeks.

"Hopefully this is exactly what Wincanton has been waiting for."

Mr Wrigglesworth said he plans for the pub to offer around 40 Somerset ciders, with a shop selling around 100 different ciders, chutneys and cheeses.

It is also hoped that the upstairs of the pub will be transformed into a "cider learning centre", showcasing the history and heritage of Somerset's most renowned drink.

John Smith, chairman of Wincanton Businesses Together, said: "This could be an exciting plan.

"Life for our publicans is hard in a town the size of Wincanton. They have been under pressure for some time, and it's only through imaginative thinking that our local landlords have carved out their niche markets to provide a hard-fought living in difficult times.

"If it goes to plan Paul may well be able to attract coach trips to Wincanton, bringing benefit to all our high street businesses.

"If that's the idea, it sounds great and will bring people into the pub, but also from far and wide into our High Street."

Uncle Tom's Cabin was first opened by Thomas Green in 1861.

The inn takes its name from American author Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous book which was published as a serial in an anti-slavery newspaper in 1851.

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