England's oldest pub to reopen after being saved by former staff

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks new landlord Martin Robinson and head chef Ian Baulsh

England's oldest pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, Hertfordshire, has been saved by its former staff and will reopen on April 4. Pictured are former manager Martin Robinson, who is the new landlord, and head chef Ian Baulsh. - Credit: YE OLDE FIGHTING COCKS

England's oldest pub has been saved by its former staff and will reopen in April following a takeover deal.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans fell into administration in February 2022, but is now under new management.

Former manager Martin Robinson is now landlord of the pub, which is said to date back as far as the eighth century.

He has teamed up with head chef Ian Baulsh and Sam Walker to give the pub a new life. 

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is allegedly Britain's oldest pub

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is allegedly Britain's oldest pub - Credit: Danny Loo

The pub closed in February with the then-landlord Christo Tofalli saying that the past two years had been "unprecedented for the hospitality industry".

He also described the pandemic as "devastating" for the pub.

New landlord Martin Robinson said: "I am delighted to announce that myself, Ian Baulsh and Sam Walker have now taken over the running of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

"I have worked here for 12 years as the manager so I have a clear vision of how to ensure the future success of this pub.

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"Ian has been head chef for the past eight years and is excited to share the pub's new menus and his food strategy going forward.

"Sam brings a talent for aesthetics and design which will help us to enhance our customer experience, while retaining all the wonderful features of its rich history.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks survived the Reformation, the English Civil War and animal rights protests, but Covid-19 forced the pub into administration in February 2022. - Credit: Richard Protz

"I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Christo Tofalli who worked so hard to steer the pub through many acutely challenging trading conditions.

"Covid-19 was one challenge too far, but I will always be grateful to him for the loyalty he has shown the pub, and his team, and for his unwavering friendship.

"Ian, Sam and I are now excited to be taking the pub into the next chapter of its story.

"We very much look forward to welcoming many familiar faces back here, and hopefully some new ones too."

Mitchells and Butlers, a large national pub-owning company with around 1,700 pubs, is supporting the new management team.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks will reopen on April 4 at 12pm, and will be opened by the Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Edgar Hill.

As well as new menus with regularly changing specials, there will be an extensive barbecue area in the pub's garden, which overlooks the huge lake in St Albans' Verulamium Park. 

There will also be a childrens' menu, live music events and summer ‘Fighters' Festivals'.