Fable and Form

Step Inside: The Bath Pub Company Evolution

Putting their people and the local community first.

Project Overview

Services: Interior Design, Interior Styling, 3D Visuals

Type: Hospitality, Bar and Restaurant 

Category: Refurbishment 

User: The Bath Pub Company and Public 

Function: Bar and Restaurant

Location: Bath, UK

Rising to the challenge

During the second round of pub closures due to lockdowns in 2020, The Bath Pub Company created the opportunity to improve their pubs to make them even better places for their own team, community and customers to come back to. Their aim was to evolve the existing interior designs by investing in facilities for their customers’ wellness, improving the efficiency of their operations for their people and creating a better overall environment. They operate four great British pubs; 

The Marlborough Tavern, The Hare and Hounds, The Locksbrook Inn and The Moorfields. Each one has its own distinct personality and character that’s relevant to the building’s location in Bath and its architecture, and they all share the same humbling values for quality and passion to create the most friendly and informal welcoming environments and to serve exceptional food and drink for their customers.

Fable and Form worked with us on a number of bar fit out projects, helping us reinvent previously tired and inefficient work spaces into something special. They were great to work with, bringing great ideas to the table whilst being open to ideas we were keen on; it felt like a really good partnership. I was really impressed by their professionalism, but more than anything, I loved working with them – they were great fun and lovely people.

– Joe Cussens, Managing Director of The Bath Pub Company.

The Marlborough Tavern

Located in the heart of the historic city next to Royal Crescent within a Bath stone, Georgian building, the existing interior had classic character features with real fireplaces, quirky seating nooks and the bar at its centre, as you would expect with a proper pub atmosphere. The aim of the project was to redesign the entire bar to create a centrepiece of attraction for customers as soon as they entered. The team were committed to creating an exciting new experience for its customers and also to retain the unique character of the Pub, and asked us to reimagine what was possible for them. Although most Georgian architecture is known for its lofty ceilings and huge windows, the pub itself is located at ground floor level with a lower ceiling height resulting in the bar not commanding the presence it should in the space. It’s ‘L-shape’ was also unbalanced in its effect with one side classed as the ‘Main Bar’ and the other side slightly forgotten.

Our design utilised the existing ceiling features, to stretch the visual appearance of the bar, creating the illusion of additional height, and both sides of the bar fully considered. The result was a timeless, Georgian inspired centerpiece, designed for harmony and balance. Its touches of gilding, period inspired paint colours and detailed joinery with hidden storage create a backdrop bottle display with wow factor that they can keep tidy, even at their busiest times. Alongside the redesign for the bar, the washrooms were also improved to consider the efficiency of the space available and elevate the overall experience for all guests. The team at the Marlborough Tavern have been so proud to come back to work in their new environment which is so much more in keeping with the incredible skills of their talented bar and kitchen team.

The Hare and Hounds

With stunning views over Bath’s Charlcombe Valley, this 17th century building has all  the feels of a country pub, whilst being conveniently on the edge of the city centre. As part of their great efforts to continue to support and serve their local community during a global pandemic, the Hare and Hounds team utilised their outside space to extend their services into the fresh air, enabling the local community to meet up with friends and family for food and drink, whilst enjoying the award-winning view overlooking the stunning Bath countryside. Our brief was to transform an existing outdoor structure into a destination, defining a new outdoor bar and pizza dining area. The design of the exterior was led by the desire to be sympathetic to the natural landscape by using materials, such as timber larch for the cladding, a subdued colour palette that took its cues from the existing surroundings and elements that tied into the style of the adjacent main building. As the interior is only visible when you are standing directly in front of it, we were able to be more bold and playful with the finishes inside whilst keeping the overall look low key. A red worktop made from recycled paper waste inspired by the muted colour of the trees found in Royal Victoria Park, 

gives the first hint to the more colourful interior beyond, leading to blue and copper finishes on the walls and ceiling. These are highlighted by feature pendant lighting, subtly illuminating the bar and adding an inviting glow. A lot was packed into the modest square footage, with every millimeter of the bar and pizza prep area being carefully planned with hanging glass racks to improve the storage and the interactive experience between the server and customer. Beautifully hand painted outdoor signs finish the authentic look perfectly. The finished Garden bar looks understatedly fantastic, like it’s always been there, which is exactly the look the team at The Bath Pub Company wanted to achieve, so that it blends seamlessly into the views. The impact such a small space could have on a community during the challenge of lockdowns is quite remarkable and a testament to the tenacity of the pub’s team. They supported themselves, and other local businesses who helped create the outdoor bar, throughout lockdown and are now able to serve the local community better and create a better working environment for their people. 

The Locksbrook Inn

Sitting next to a canal section of the River Avon and the Bristol to Bath cycle path, this pub’s individual features are all about the location, serving crowds of customers arriving by boat and bike, alongside the usuals. Part of The Bath Pub Company’s team values are ‘Good is good, but excellent is better’ which was the driving force behind the modifications carried out at the Locksbrook Inn. The main focus was to achieve effortless efficiency between the kitchen, bar and front of house, improving all aspects of their operations from circulation routes around the bar to cocktail making and coffee stations. Also, taking the opportunity to make a underutilsed corner of the pub more relevant, a new coffee bar area was also designed for customers to enjoy a cup of 

coffee from whilst also having the ability to plug in and use their laptops. The detailed planning for these elements was crucial for the success of the redesign so, we created a series of in depth technical drawing sets of the bar to ensure the modifications made would achieve the results they were aiming for. These were then worked through on site to stress test them before they were signed off, giving the team full confidence before giving the go-ahead. As a customer of the pub, you may not notice a lot of the changes, as most of them are helping behind the scenes, in fact, for them to be working successfully, you’ll probably notice them even less!

Evolution over Revolution

As businesses and their customers evolve, the environments they use to support their work must change with them in order to continue serving them well. Redesigns can cause disruption so its important to plan everything properly before starting so that you know what you’re doing once things start. You don’t have to rip everything up and start again. Once the current and future requirements have been established, the existing space can be reviewed to see what will still work and what won’t, and then tailor the updates to refresh and evolve the space, whilst keeping everything in that’s still relevant. 

Considering your future requirements based on the what you need over the next few years is also key to extending the time before the next refresh would be required. This is both a cost effective approach and a sustainable one. Working with a design team to guide you through the redesign so that you can achieve as much as possible to make the physical space support your business optimally, for as long as possible can be extremely helpful in getting the most out of your project. 

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