NEW young faces are behind the pumps at one of Malmesbury’s most historic watering holes.

Stephen Newton, 28 and girlfriend Hannah Soden, 21, have taken on their first full managerial role for Arkell’s Brewery at the King’s Arms.

Since they took over, turnover has tripled at the 12-bedroom inn even before the planned refurbishment scheduled to take place later this year.

“There’s a lot of competition in Malmesbury so we needed to up the hotel’s game,” said Stephen, who was head chef at the Angel Hotel in Royal Wootton Bassett for two years.

“But it seems that people like what we’re doing and we’ve been very busy since we took over.”

Inspired to cook by his chef mother, Stephen has been mentored by respected chefs including Mike Randal, head chef at the Sally Pussey’s Inn, Wootton Bassett, Yoann Clement, head chef at Stanton House, Highworth and Adam Conduit, sous chef at the Pear Tree, Purton.

But he admits he hasn’t quite yet got his mum’s knack for the perfect apple and blackberry pie. “She gave me her recipe, but I think she left something out because it just doesn’t taste quite the same.”

A qualified butcher, he cuts all his own steaks for the hotel at nearby Maplesale Farm at Brinkworth.

Hannah recently graduated from Plymouth University with a degree in Theatre and Performance Studies, Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: “Stephen and Hannah make a great team. We’ve known Stephen for years – he’s worked his way up in a number of our pubs so we were really delighted when he said he felt ready to take over one at The Kings’ Arms which we only bought three years’ ago.”

Arkell’s is currently undertaking a rolling programme of improvements at the hotel. A new beer garden has recently been completed, which is proving very popular with customers during the recent hot weather and work will begin on upgrading the bedrooms and pretty atrium restaurant later this year.”