Lancashire’s high five in Top 50 Gastropubs

30 January 2019
Steve Smith, Chef Patron, Freemasons at Wiswell – Gastropub Chef of the Year

Five Lancashire pubs have been named some of the best in the country. Freemasons at Wiswell, Parkers Arms in Newton in Bowland, The Cartford Inn in Great Eccleston, The White Swan at Fence and Assheton Arms in Downham were named on the prestigious Top 50 Gastropubs list at a special event at Lillibrooke Manor in Berkshire. Lancashire also took the top spot with the highest number of ranking pubs in the North.

It was a double win for Freemasons at Wiswell chef patron, Steven Smith, who was also named Gastropub Chef of the Year. A top five regular on the list, this popular gastropub’s number three position was its highest ranking since the awards were launched and takes the top spot in Lancashire. The news comes ahead of the pub launching its own new chef’s table experience and luxury accommodation in the spring.

‘Lancashire has once again shown what a truly fantastic offering it has across the county and The Freemasons were honoured to be leading the charge,’ said Steve. ‘This is a big year for the pub. We’re happy to have established ourselves as one of the best pubs in the country but with our new offering, we’re confident it will take us to the next level.’

The Top 50 announcement also continued an impressive run for Tom Parker, head chef at The White Swan at Fence, which was the highest new entry on the list at number 19. The multi-award-winning pub, which has been a hit with critics including Jay Rayner, was also awarded its first Michelin star last October.

Parkers Arms headed up by chef Stosie Madi in Newton in Bowland took 16th place, The Cartford Inn in Great Eccleston, with chef Chris Bury at the helm, maintained their position at 40, and Seafood Pub Company’s Assheton Arms, with head of kitchen operations Mark Taft, returned to the list at number 45. The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs are voted for by gastropub operators, food writers, executive chefs and experts across the industry.

All five pubs are Marketing Lancashire Partners and form a part of the destination management organisation’s Taste Lancashire campaign designed to promote food and drink and make Lancashire a must visit destination for food lovers and those in search of gourmet breaks.

Food and drink is now worth more than £1.04 billion and is the largest area of growth in Lancashire’s visitor economy. The sector also supports thousands of food and drink related jobs in Lancashire.

As a part of Marketing Lancashire’s drive to shine a light on the county’s culinary achievements, the organization will host its second Taste Lancashire Food and Drink Conference on Tuesday, March 5th at Holmes Mill.

Bringing together producers, retailers, buyers, chefs, hoteliers, food and drink entrepreneurs and exporters, as well as key influencers, delegates at this gathering of Lancashire’s most influential hospitality movers and shakers will hear from industry experts and commentators. Topics like the latest food trends, sustainability, customer expectations, and food health and wellbeing will be on the menu as well as insights into how to further develop the profile of Lancashire’s food and drink sector nationally and internationally.

The event is supported by headline sponsors Visit Britain and Visit England along with UCLan, Hotfoot Design, National Farmers’ Union and Holmes Mill. Tickets are now on sale. For more information visit 


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