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The Smoker, an iconic grade two listed thatched coaching inn situated in the picturesque village of Plumley, has reopened following a major 6-month refurbishment and a substantial joint investment of three quarters of a million pounds from Robinsons Brewery and licensee, Darren Crawford. Purchased by Robinsons in 1948, The Smoker, one of Cheshire’s most famous inns, has been stylishly and extensively restored to its former glory.

The Smoker exterior

Located on the ancient Roman Watling Street, this 400-year old Elizabethan inn has a distinct sense of history and bags of character. Not only is it rumoured that Queen Elizabeth once stayed at the pub, but there is also a tale behind the name. First opening its doors in 1597, a year when William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ was first performed and the King James Bible was published for the first time in London, this is the only pub in Britain called The Smoker. Like many pubs, The Smoker was named after a horse… but not just any horse, a smoky-coloured charger owned by the first Lord de Tabley, who raised the Cheshire Yeomanry against the threat from Napoleon. Smoker was bred as a racehorse by the Prince Regent and is famous for having won 12 of his 19 races and was only unplaced twice.

While it’s sense of past has not been forgotten, The Smoker’s reputation has, over the years, shifted from racing to exceptional English and Continental cuisine. Championing fresh, seasonal produce, one of the most exciting aspects of the new transformation is the food. The cherished countryside pub has reopened with an elevated menu designed to take customers back to the era of the 80’s, when The Smoker was the “go to” pub for mouth-watering meals. Delicious new dishes such as the Aromatic Pork Belly Hotpot, Roast Duck Breast with Red Berries and Game Stew with Dumplings sit side by side with pub classics such as Beer Battered Fish and Chips and the Beef and Ale Pie. Catering for all tastes and appetites, The Smoker’s food is sure to impress and leave even the most ravenous of appetites satisfied.

Darren Crawford and family

Wayne Roach, Business Development Manager for Robinsons Brewery commented:The pub was tired and in need of a substantial refurbishment. The vision was to retain the charm and character of the premises whilst increasing the number of covers, extending the bar area and kitchen facilities and create spaces that were appealing, cosy and which reflected the true heritage of the pub. We have refurbished the toilets and made some structural changes throughout the premises to improve customer flow. The pubs gardens have also been redesigned, with an enhanced outdoor drinking area for those warm summer evenings alongside a new attractive signage scheme. Historical features have been retained, including the pub’s beautiful thatched roof.”

Internally, floral wallpaper and fabrics have been used to fashion a timeless Arts and Crafts design. The pub now offers a brand new snug room on the front elevation, with a relaxing dual aspect fire place.

The old restaurant room has its own roaring open log fire and is great for casual drinking and dining. Around the new bar area, there is now high-level seating partnered with ambient mood lighting, adding to the relaxing ambience and overall feel. 

Darren Crawford, licensee at The Smoker, has been in the pub trade for 25 years and runs 4 Robinsons pubs in total. He said:The Smoker has received some excellent customer feedback since the refurbishment and I am very proud to have been a part of this project. We’ve had an extremely busy period since reopening, with nothing but positive comments. The Smoker for years now has offered a warm and welcoming environment for all types of people, and this has not changed. It is definitely the place to go in Cheshire whether you’re out with friends, colleagues or family.”

The Smoker internal area

 Staying true to its heritage, The Smoker has been re-established as a welcoming hub, for visitors near and far, offering an excellent range of quality cask ales, an extensive wine list, and some great draught lagers, ciders, soft drinks and a selection of coffees to choose from. The fantastic new menu is packed full of lip-licking dishes and daily specials, which allow the Chefs to show their flair, with all meals cooked to order and freshly prepared from local seasonal produce.

For more information on the Smoker, visit its website at, or call the pub directly on 01565 722338
Why not visit Darren’s other Robinsons pubs? You don’t want to miss out!
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