In Haunt

Jackie Towell writes of how lockdown has affected an inspiring ‘hidden gem’ pub that exhibits the work of local artists.

The Chiverton Tap, or ‘The Chiv’ as it is affectionately nicknamed, is Greater Manchester’s hidden gem located just a stone’s throw from Cheadle Hulme railway station. Situated in a converted former drapers and millinery shop, the award-winning micropub is no stranger to change. Faced with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, resilient landlord and landlady Bob and Mary Ellis keep their glass half full by finding new ways to serve their local community.



Before the pandemic, The Chiv was alive with clientele, drawn to the pub for its friendly staff, homely atmosphere, and great selection of British craft beers. Full of character, the micropub is charmingly furnished with a variety of board games and décor which subtly references the building’s history. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the pub has had to evolve quickly to meet changing legislation and to continue to safely welcome customers. These changes include launching an online shop, doubling their staff, and creating an app in order to provide table service, which The Chiv did not offer pre-pandemic.

Due to the current lockdown, The Chiv’s doors are closed to customers. But not to be deterred, the pub has adapted to offer a drinks delivery service, aptly named ‘The Chivathome Tap.’ So how does it work? Customers choose from a range of drinks on The Chiv’s online shop, which includes beer, cider, wine, gin, spirits, and soft drinks. Cask and keg beers are freshly pulled and delivered onto the doorstep in a flagon or growler. Once finished, empty containers are then collected by The Chiv and recycled.
 


The Chivathome delivery service has developed a round of regulars, who order at the same time each week. This offers The Chiv a sense of stability, much welcomed by the pub’s landlord and landlady after a year of changing legislation. Bob and Mary are thankful that through The Chivathome, they can keep doing what they love. Whether serving pints from behind the bar or delivering them in the car, Bob says ‘that’s the reason we’ve always been here: to provide good beers to local people.’ Every beer on offer at The Chiv is from a UK brewery, and has been researched and taste-tested by the staff before it is added to the menu. ‘Our ethos has always been about top quality,’ clarifies Bob.

In addition to offering a fine selection of British beers, The Chiv has been busy during lockdown developing a house gin with Made Of Stone Brewery, based at their sister pub The Mounting Stone, in Bramhall, Stockport. Seven Arches London Dry Gin is named after the local Grade II listed Cheadle Hulme viaduct. The gin was developed by The Chiv’s co-owner Andrew O’Shea and Forest Gin distillery. It proved to be popular with customers, selling out quickly during its first run.

The British pub is often seen as the heart of every community, and despite the lockdown, The Chiv are still finding ways to unite local people and businesses. For example, by hosting a virtual ‘Meet the Brewer’ evening on the 12th of February. The event was held in collaboration with Salford microbrewery Marble Beers, and The Mounting Stone. Participants were offered the chance to chat with Marble’s head brewer, and to taste a selection of beers which were delivered to them prior to the event. Supporting local brewers is a lockdown priority for The Chiv, as Mary remarks: ‘they’ve supported us in good times, we wanted to help them in bad times’.



The Chiv is also proud to be helping local businesses by using their large windows to house the ‘Salvage Gallery’ exhibiting works of upcycled art created by local couple Richard and Marjorie Brown. These pieces would normally be sold at market, but due to market closures, are currently available from The Chiv. Once the pub reopens, it will continue to exhibit work from local artists and businesses on the walls of its newly renovated upstairs space. The Chiv also intend to begin hosting events upstairs, having had success with running them virtually.

Although Bob and Mary agree that the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, they are both focussing on the positives of the situation. ‘Hopefully we’ll come out of this stronger and better’ says Mary, reflecting on how they have gained new skills whilst successfully tackling the challenges of the pandemic so far. ‘There’s so much that we’ve taken from this lockdown period that we want to move forward with.’ After lockdown, the pair are keen to maintain The Chiv’s table service, beer deliveries and online retail presence, but are looking forward to reopening as a pub, and having a full cellar again.
 


Bob and Mary are optimistic about the future and are considering their next steps. They hope to relaunch the Chiv’s mobile caravan bar and begin attending events when permitted later this year. In addition, there are plans to work alongside local food catering vans so that the pub can offer food onsite. Restrictions permitting, The Chiv are hoping to welcome customers again to the pub’s beer garden from the 12th April.


Follow The Chiverton Tap on Facebook for updates and upcoming events, or visit their website: www.thechivertontap.co.uk

Or order from the Chiv’s online shop at: https://chiv.pub/shop/

For information on sister pub The Mounting Stone and Made Of Stone brewery: https://www.themountingstone.co.uk/

To keep up to date with the Salvage Gallery, see: www.reclaimedforart.com

Jackie Towell holds an MA in English (Gothic Studies Pathway) from Manchester Met, and she can be found on Twitter @TowellJackie. She enjoys reading, walking her dogs, baking, and learning languages. All of the photography featured in this article is by Mary Ellis.

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