Melton’s longest-serving pub landlords praise town’s ‘brilliant buzz’
Melton’s longest-serving pub licensees are celebrating clocking up 20 years and they are already planning to be still pulling pints there for another decade.
Martin Davis and Sandra Shaw have transformed The Half Moon, on Nottingham Street from a tired, unloved local into a popular community pub known for its beautiful floral displays.
In a bid to bring the community together, the couple stage weekend entertainment and music events and they also knocked out a wall to make space for a pool table so a team can play in a local league, as well as starting up three new darts teams.
The pandemic has proved a challenge for Martin and Sandra, like all publicans, but they made use of the lockdown closures to extend the courtyard garden to seat 50 and also adding café-style tables outside the front of the pub.
They have come a long way since taking over the pub in 2001.
Formerly in construction, Martin was looking for a change of direction when he took charge if with partner Sandra.
He recalled: “I’d never worked in a pub before but I love socialising, so thought it would be ideal.
“Friends told me I was mad and that I’d never stick it.
“I looked at loads of pubs. I visited The Half Moon on market day, and the town had a brilliant buzz about it.
“I fell in love with the pub straightway. It’s a beautiful old building with an old-fashioned feel and a wonderful atmosphere.”
Ironically, their tenure ended almost as soon as it began when Martin suffered an attack of first day nerves.
He said: “When I found the cellar equipment wasn’t working I nearly walked out, but then a lady came in to welcome us with a beautiful bunch of flowers, so we felt we had to stay.
“That kind gesture is typical of Melton Mowbray.
“We aren’t from the town and didn’t know anyone, but people made us feel at home right away.
“We’ve never looked back. We adore The Half Moon.
“The best part is seeing customers of all ages and backgrounds mixing and enjoying the pub.
“It was heartbreaking to have to close for the lockdowns: we missed everyone so much.
“It’s fantastic to be getting back to normal and to see the market doing so well again.”
Despite many changes and pub closures in Melton over the years, Martin and Sandra have kept The Half Moon thriving by taking it back to its roots as a traditional local.
A menu of pub classics such as fish and chips and Ploughman’s lunch is served on market days.
The rest of the week the emphasis is on providing a friendly hub where residents can meet.
The couple are also fascinated by the history of their pub, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has a listed beam, which is believed to have been from an old hunting lodge on the site in Henry VIII’s time.
The Half Moon is also reputed to have the deepest cellar in Melton Mowbray.
Martin commented: “It once stored wine for the local gentry, but it’s been sealed up for 35 years.
“There’s lots of history here. If anyone knows more or has pictures of The Half Moon in bygone days, we’d love to hear from them.”
He added: “It’s our dream to pass it on to one of our family or our team on our 30th anniversary.”
Martin and Sandra were presented with a framed certificate to mark their long service by the pub’s owners, Star Pubs and Bars.
Dan Littlewood, the company’ area manager, said: “Martin and Sandra have put their heart and soul into The Half Moon and under their stewardship it has become a much-loved local that really adds to the centre of Melton Mowbray.
“It’s an amazing achievement to have kept a pub at the top of its game for so long.
“We wish Martin and Sandra many more happy years behind the bar.”