North Cumbrian pub in new hands of former landlady

Sophie MacGillivray and Julie Harrison
Sophie MacGillivray and Julie Harrison

The former landlady of a north Cumbrian village pub has gone back to her roots and is once again behind the bar – nearly three decades later.

Julie Harrison and her daughter Sophie MacGillivray have taken on The Duke of Cumberland in Castle Carrock, near Brampton.

It’s about 28 years since Ms Harrison ran the pub, which sits in the heart of the village she grew up in and where her mum Margaret Harrison ran the local shop for nearly 50 years.

“It was very difficult all those years ago as I was a single mum with two very young children,” she said.

“I was very lucky as mum and dad had the village post office so they were a great help with my girls, plus I had some great staff.

“Eventually you burn out running your own pub, it really is hard work with very long hours, so I decided to move on and get a nine to five job,” said Ms Harrison, 58.

She moved on to work in the property industry, both in estate agency and property developing, before taking on the Horse and Farrier and Salutation Inn at Threlkeld for about four years.

But she wanted to enjoy time with her family – she has her three grandchildren and her parents still lived in the village.

Her mum, Margaret, who was described as being like a mother to the village, suddenly passed away last February, aged 82, and left a huge hole in the community.

She was dedicated to the shop and her customers.

“I’m so grateful that we sold the business when we did as I had the most lovely year spending quality time at the shop with mum.

“I genuinely thought I’d hang my hat up and be put out to pasture. But I guess fate had a different plan,” she added.

“I decided I wasn’t old enough to retire so why shouldn’t we look after the Duke of Cumberland for a few more years?

“So here we are back in the beautiful village of Castle Carrock, back to our roots.”

Mrs MacGillivray, 30, who recently moved to Castle Carrock, said: “When Grandma passed away, it’s just been nice to come up here and it’s given everyone a purpose.

“It’s like bringing life back into the village really as well.

“If it didn’t have a shop and it didn’t have a pub there would be nothing here.

“Losing her and losing the shop, as horrible as it is, it’s nice to be back in the village and given everyone a piece of that back.

“Grandma would have liked it. We said on Friday night she would have been sat there with a gin and tonic or a brandy, enjoying what was going on.”

She added: “It’s a bit stressful trying to get everything organised and find your feet but we’re excited. It’ll be good.”

After a full refurbishment they opened last week to a large crowd who enjoyed a night of music and drinks.

The pub now boasts stylish dark green walls, a new bar top and signage.

It also has a new menu of traditional bar food “with a twist” and some specials.

The mother and daughter duo also plan to offer bed and breakfast and will create three guest bedrooms in the two floors above the pub.

With so many walking routes nearby they wanted to give ramblers another place to stay in the area.

Owner and former landlady Mel Brown was pleased the village would not be left without its local and that it was in the hands of good friends.

She and her family breathed new life into the pub when they bought and renovated it in 2008 after it had been closed for more than 12 years.

“I think Julie and Sophie will make a good go of things at the Duke.

“It’s great to see it in the hands of someone we know will look after the place.

“I wish them all the best and hope the village comes through to support them,” said Mrs Brown.

After several years she and her husband Martin wanted to start a new chapter.

Since they took it on, the Duke has become a central part of village life, supporting many local events including the popular Music on the Marr festival, which in 2016 attracted about 1,200 people to the village green.

Organiser Richard Johnstone said he doesn’t think they could run the festival without it and that it was “absolutely integral” to the whole thing.

The village’s other pub, The Weary, was demolished and homes have been built in its place.

The Duke of Cumberland, which will now welcome dogs, is open Wednesday to Sunday and serves food from noon to 2pm and 5pm to 8.30pm Wednesday to Friday, with a longer food service at weekends from noon to 8.30pm.

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