Jocelyn Neve, a Fleetwood fish merchant’s daughter with grand designs, opens her fourth dining pub on August 15 after a £750,000 refurbishment at the Farmers Arms in Great Eccleston.
Her Seafood Pub Company already runs the Oyster and Otter at Feniscowles, the famous Assheton Arms at Downham and the Fenwick in the Lune Valley at Claughton.
Her great grandfather was skipper of a famous trawler, Clotilde FD232, the first Fleetwood trawler to go minesweeping in the Great War. Her father Chris is the son of a trawler man and served in the Royal Navy before building with his brother Gerard the key Fleetwood fish firm of C. & G. Neve, eventually operating four trawlers, a seafood processing plant and 16 delivery vans serving 500 trade customers in Britain, Holland and Spain.
Chris retired from Neve Fleetwood in 2009 but fresh seafood arrives daily at his daughter’s pubs from his former firm, now part of the Direct Seafoods group. Chris has now joined the Seafood Pub Company with a third partner, chef Antony Shirley, formerly sous chef at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, head chef at Panacea in Manchester and friend and colleague of Andrew Nutter at the outstanding ‘Nutters’ in Rochdale.
Jocelyn was only 25 when she persuaded the Blackburn brewers Thwaites to join her first project, a £600,000 reconstruction of the former Hordens pub in Feniscowles that included building and operating a traditional Lancashire fish and chip shop.
Three days before Christmas 2011, she outbid Marco Pierre White to take over the lease of the Assheton Arms at Downham.
On June 6, 2013, the Seafoood Pub Company re-opened the doors at the Fenwick in Claughton, a 250 year old pub that had featured in Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ TV series and stands at the very, very edge of the A683 Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale road, the third most dangerous road in Britain.
A widely predicted disaster has so far been brilliantly avoided. A villager,’Bob B of Lancaster’, reported to Trip Advisor that he had enjoyed hake with Morecambe Bay prawns, samphire and capers on the opening night, ‘As one of the few potential customers who can actually walk to this establishment I have been watching its reincarnation with a mix of trepidation and excitement. Having lived here for 20 years I have seen a few operators come and more often than not go, so someone who is prepared to take this place on needs to be both brave and creative.’ A683 commuters report that the Fenwick car park is busy again. Jocelyn, Chris and Antony seem to have pulled off a win against the odds.
Closer to Jocelyn’s home, she promises at the Farmers Arms in Great Eccleston: ‘Exceptional locally sourced food, cooked and presented in a straightforward uncomplicated manner. Excellence in food, service and surroundings has become a trademark that the Farmers Arms will continue to represent as the Seafood Pub Company carries on growing.’
Jocelyn, Chris and Antony on the quayside at Fleetwood.