IT was a welcome surprise to be reacquainted with Carl Harrison again recently.
I first met Carl a few years ago in his capacity as manager of the popular View fish and chip restaurant in Stratford, when his passion for his trade was quickly apparent.
He has worked in the fish and chips business for more than 15 years and knows a thing or two about running a restaurant.
It was good to hear then that, after being controversially forced to leave The View by the landlords, this popular Stratford man is making a success of his next venture a few miles down the road in Kineton.
He also runs two chip shops in Warwickshire – Brinklow Fish Bar in Broad Street and Chaplins in Abbey Green, Nuneaton but also ran the chippie in Kineton between 2002 and 2009.
Carl’s departure back in January 2017 dealt a blow for the local community with which he was very popular. That’s in no small part due to the fact that he did a lot to support that community, with fundraising events and giving over his free time to cook for the more vulnerable – and free time was already in very limited supply! You’d think the man would want a break from the kitchens!
But you can’t keep a good businessman down for long – and now in his second year at The Swan Hotel, in Banbury Street, Carl has already added his own stamp, including a new team and light refurbishment – and next has plans to step up the fundraising to support – and entertain – this new Kineton community.
And Carl doesn’t have to look very far to be reminded of his own family history. His mother and father, Tony and Marlene, were born and bred in the village. In fact Tony lived in The Chestnuts, the house opposite The Swan today. And the family owned Central Stores which is now Nifty Needles.
Carl and I will be working together to celebrate all that’s great about his business, including exciting news coming soon of a first for its diners! Thought I’d whet your appetites…
Of course he is the latest in a long line of mine hosts at The Swan, which dates back to 1668 – yes the former coaching inn marked its milestone 350th anniversary last year! And talking of stones, 1668 is still etched in stone above the door.
In celebration of the three-and-a-half centuries, I have delved back into some of the history of this building, which sits in the medieval part of the village.
* When a new landlord was sought in 1849, it was described in the advertisement as ‘An old established and well accustomed Commercial Inn and Excise Office now in full trade and comprising every requisite convenience, with excellent stabling, spacious yard and walled garden.’
It is likely to have served as a coaching inn but the history books also tell us that it was used to host the Petty Sessions Court alternately with the nearby Red Lion for much of the 19th century.
The Swan also served as a meeting place for many Kineton organisations including the Old Friendly Society (established in 1785), the New Friendly Society and annual meetings of the Kineton Gas Company, the Kineton and Wellesbourne Turnpike Trust and the Horticultural Society.
During the First World War the licensee claimed to be providing stabling for 30 horses although when the inn was inspected for billeting purposes in 1917, it was said to be suitable for only 20 horses – but also 50 men!
No sign of any horses today! – But its history and charm remains at the heart of the business in the 21st century.
I look forward to working with Carl in the coming months to help spotlight the great work he’s putting in behind the scenes and to, inevitably, further build upon its success.
In the meantime – and in true form, he is inviting nominations for local charities to benefit from the proceeds of his fundraising events throughout the year. (Stay tuned. . .)
Nominations, which close on Monday, February 4th, can be made here
Visit the hotel website here
* Information courtesy of the book Kineton, The Village and its History.