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Regeneration game helps pub land Manager of the Month Award

Ben Smith picks up the prize for community work at the James Atherton in New Brighton

A pub at the heart of both its community and a bold regeneration project has won the BT Sport Manager of the Month Award

Ben Smith, general manager of the James Atherton in New Brighton, Merseyside, picked up the trophy and a £1,000 voucher to spend in the BT shop.

He has been at the community local for three years and has helped oversee its transformation from a closed-up site to a vibrant corner local.

In that time, the pub has built up close links with residents, and even provided free meals for punters on Christmas day.

“We put Christmas dinners on for everyone who didn’t have anywhere to go, we fed a lot of people that way and kept the pub open from noon until midnight.

We get a lot of lonely people and I always make sure bar staff know people’s name and what they drink so they know they are wanted.

We feel like we are helping people out by welcoming them into the place and being part of the community.”

It’s just one example of the way the pub has reconnected with its residents. In fact, it is central to a wider project to breathe new life into the New Brighton area.

The seaside town was one of the most popular resorts in the UK up to the Second World War but it suffered from lack of investment and lost its appeal. New Brighton resident and hospitality industry stalwart Dan Davies was determined to give it a new lease of life.

He is the chief executive of Rockpoint Leisure, the private-sector regeneration project he established to bring new independent businesses – led by hospitality – jobs, investment, street art, and much, much more to the area.

The JA, as it is known locally, is at the heart of the regeneration.

Dan explains: “New Brighton was founded in 1830 by a guy called James Atherton

“The pub used to be called The Railway and we changed it. We wanted to have it as a place that was safe, vibrant, and serviced the community.

“A public house is about the public and community. That for us is somewhere we know everybody’s name, we know what they drink and what the dog’s name is and they can come in at any time.” 

Ben adds that being part of the project has been a major benefit for the pub and the area.

He says: “What Dan has done in the area is amazing. It has turned what was a ghost town into a proper community hub.

“It has really generated a community feeling where everyone looks out for each other.”

Sport is a key part of the offer at the JA and while Ben is an Everton fan, the majority of his customers come from the red side of the area.

Sport is very central to the business especially midweek when you can have quite quiet nights and then you get a Liverpool Champions League semi-final and all of a sudden the place is booming.

And while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are on the hunt for yet more silverware, there’s now a trophy that sits proudly in the Merseyside pub.

Ben continues: “It’s a great privilege to have won BT Sport Manager of the Month. It shows recognition of the job I’m doing here and for the community that is behind me. It’s fantastic and I’m really honoured to win it.”



  • Do you know someone who deserves to be considered for a BT Sport Manager of the Month – or Club of the Month – award? Let us know why on Twitter by tagging in @BTSportBars and using  the hashtag #BTMOTM.


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