I’m not sure if I let this one slip back in the summer, but in case I didn’t, or for those who may have missed it, Tonbridge will soon be getting another “destination pub”.
The news come hot on the heels of Fuggles opening in the town, and whilst this was several months ago now, the new addition, which I am about to reveal, will provide some much needed choice to the south end of Tonbridge; an area which sometimes feels like the poor relation to the rest of the town.
The pub in question is the Nelson Arms; a real back-street, corner local, which until its closure in March last year, belonged to Shepherd Neame. It is located in Cromer Street, close to the railway, in the Barden area of the town. It was the closest, and indeed the only pub to where my in-laws used to live, and when I first knew it, it was a Courage house.
The Nelson had been knocked about over the years, losing its separate bars in he process, along with much of its character. When Shepherd Neame announced its closure, a number of local residents and users of the pub, formed an action group, and successfully applied for an AVC to help keep the building as a pub, and to prevent the site from being redeveloped.
In July last year, the pub was bought by Matt and Emma who also own the excellent Windmill at Sevenoaks Weald, and who have turned what was formerly a run-down Greene King pub, into one of the best pubs in the area. The Windmill definitely fits the billing of “destination pub”, offering up to six, locally sourced, cask beers, traditional cider, plus a number of Belgian beers.
The pub has deservedly been voted Pub of the Year, by West Kent CAMRA, for several years running and was only very narrowly pipped at the post by Fuggles, in last year’s competition. Having seen what Matt and Emma have achieved at the Windmill, we have high expectations for what they have planned for the Nelson.
The company in charge of the redesign, are Kook Creative, a design studio based in West Malling, specialising in residential and commercial interiors across the South-East. The Nelson represents their second project in Tonbridge, as the firm were also responsible for the design of the new Fuggles in the town.
From what I understand, some of the original partitions are being put back in place, in order to re-create a multi-bar pub. This will allow the Nelson to cater for a variety of different customers. The beer range will also be a key feature of the re-opened pub; something which will go down well with local residents, including myself.
Again, from what I have heard, the pub will only be serving a very limited range of food, which given its location in a residential area, is not really surprising. Matt and Emma are planning to open the doors of their latest creation at the end of this month, so watch this space for further news.