A POPULAR Wylam pub has been taken over.

The Ship Inn, on the village's Main Road, now has Peter Drummond, of Drummond Pub Company LTD, at its helm.

Husband and wife Paul and Kelly Johnson announced they were to leave the popular pub in February after five years; the couple blamed their departure on the rising costs facing the industry, including rent, food and alcohol. They also had a new arrival on the way.

Peter, who formerly ran The Badger in Ponteland for 19 years, already heads The Engine Inn in Walbottle.

"It's great, first of all, to be able to keep The Ship open", said Peter, who, in the late 80s, ran nightclubs in Sheffield before managing a string of restaurants and hotels. "It's to give the pub back to the locals, if one of them (pubs) go, then the reason to visit Wylam becomes less.

"My vision was always that I wanted to have a chain of country pub restaurants; it's quality food, fresh, local produce. It's a simple ethos: Serve cold beer, hot food with great service at a good price.

"If you're consistent and your prices are reasonable, it's all about repeat business, and the only reason they'll come back to you is if they get looked after because service is part of that value for money- it's not just about what you're paying for the plate or the pint pot, it's how you feel about the whole experience.

"I want it to be you can come in, you can sit wherever you want, you can have whatever you want, you can spend what you want on food or just come in, have a nice pint of cask ale and a glass of wine.

"It's also about trying to cater for everybody - a group of lads wanting a steak, the women's institute, a family - with a small menu but only giving a quality product."

The pub also has six bedrooms and is popular with tourists; Peter has already played host to an Australian couple coming from the Galápagos Islands to walk Hadrian's Wall as well visitors from South Carolina and Denmark.

Despite pressures and changes to the industry, Peter is confident he can steer his team to success.

"If I can find the right places, I can get the right people to work with me to deliver my vision; I'm confident in what I'm doing, once people have been once or twice, they'll want to come back", he said.

"And the people in the village are great; I've had people come in and bring me cards welcoming me.

"More pubs have closed this year than ever and without a doubt, unless you can offer a good food offer alongside your drink portfolio, you're struggling. It's about not stretching yourself too far; it's doing what you're comfortable with and trying to deliver the best product you can consistently."