Lancashire Life Luncheon - Derby Arms, Longridge

PUBLISHED: 09:16 10 November 2014 | UPDATED: 21:31 19 January 2016

Derbyshire Arms Lunch

Derbyshire Arms Lunch

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Joycelyn Neve has injected new life into the Derby Arms pub and restaurant. It was the location for the latest Lancashire Life lunch. Emma Mayoh reports

The Derby ArmsThe Derby Arms

Joycelyn Neve had strict instructions from dad, Chris, one of the region’s top suppliers of fresh fish. If the Derby Arms at Thornley, near Longridge, ever became available she was to snap it up. And when the 29-year-old and company chairman Andrew McLean first stepped inside the once popular but then rather sorry looking pub, she did just that.

‘It had been closed for about a year,’ said Jocelyn ‘But it was once a real destination eating place that people loved. My dad had supplied it for about 15 years and had told me how good it was.

‘Andrew got a phone call that the Derby being available. I had to have it. When we looked there was a big hole to the cellar and Andrew nearly fell down it. The place really wasn’t looking its best. But we knew it could be great again.’

The Derby Arms’ star is certainly shining now. There have been £700,000 renovations that have transformed this building into an outstanding dining pub with six bedrooms. There will soon be more work to put in a further seven bedrooms and a function room that will accommodate 120 people. The work is expected to be done by Easter.

Jill Taylor,  Michelle O'Callaghan,  Katherine Smith and Derby Arms M.D., Joycelyn NeveJill Taylor, Michelle O'Callaghan, Katherine Smith and Derby Arms M.D., Joycelyn Neve

Despite being open just a few weeks, you’ll often find a packed dining area with people keen to try the menu cooked up by the Seafood Pub Company’s executive chef, Antony Shirley, and the venue’s new head chef Jon Jones, drafted in from one of Joycelyn’s other venture, The Farmers Arms at Great Eccleston. Together, the two talented chefs have devised a fantastic menu which showcases the company’s flair and style as well as some of the meals that were once popular at the pub in days gone by.

It was exactly a year after Joycelyn first got a look at the Derby Arms that she and Antony hosted the latest Lancashire Life luncheon. They did not disappoint. The menu, specifically prepared for the event, was put together by Antony and Jon.

We began with a delicious starter of mackerel fish fingers – supplied by Joycelyn’s dad, of course – served with English mustard, apple and chicory salad. This stunning dish silenced a previously chatty dining area – a sure sign the guests were enjoying their meal.

The main of Goosnargh duck from Reg Johnson was also well received. The sweetcorn puree, charred corn, wild mushrooms and hazelnuts complemented the tender, expertly cooked meat perfectly. To finish, a blackberry Viennese whirl with lemon and stem ginger mascarpone hit the mark and attracted pleasing murmurs from many of the tables.

Executive Chef, Antony Shirley, with head chef, Jon Jones and junior sous chef, Andy CornallExecutive Chef, Antony Shirley, with head chef, Jon Jones and junior sous chef, Andy Cornall

Jocyelyn has certainly set the bar high. But it is clear the dedicated businesswoman and her team at her fast-expanding Seafood Pub Company will reach it. In fact, the sixth venture - the Barley Mow in Barley - is about to open its doors. Joycelyn credits her staff with her success. There is no doubt the people who work for the company are one of the many good things in Joycelyn’s expanding empire. But largely it is down to the dedication and commitment of her and Antony that has made it work.

The couple were due to attend a dinner to celebrate winning Lancashire enterprise at No 11 Downing Street the day after the Lancashire Life luncheon. It shows that even those outside our county’s boundaries recognise good work when they see it.

Joycelyn already has her sight set on a further venture. Although she and chairman Andrew are scouring for possibilities across Lancashire, the Lake District and North Yorkshire, Joycelyn is secretly hoping for one in the Formby area.

She said: ‘It is a natural choice for us spreading further south. We don’t want to just randomly open one somewhere a lot out of our area. We need to do it gradually. I have family there too so it’s special to me.’

‘It has only been three years and so much has happened. I keep having to pinch myself. It’s really exciting. That’s all I can say.’

Derby Arms, Chipping Road, Longridge, PR3 2NB, 01772 782370

Jocelyn Neve was recently named Lancashire Food Hero at the 2014 Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards woth the Oyster and Otter winning Restaurant of the Year

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