IN the two short years that local landlords, Simon and Rachel Leadbetter, have had the licence on The Mowden Pub, Darlington, things have changed significantly.

The couple, who have lived in Darlington for more than 20 years, were previously running the popular Redwell Inn in Barnard Castle, but drove past The Mowden regularly, and wondered to themselves why it wasn’t busier.

With no pubs in the West End of Darlington due to old Quaker regulations, there was no nearby competition, and they regarded it as being in a great location.

When The Mowden became available, they grasped not only the opportunity to work closer to home, but the chance to re-vitalise the pub for regulars and new customers.

They’ve spent the last couple of years getting a feel for what sort of pub it is, and how they could improve it.

Simon says: “As we’ve made money with the business, we’ve re-invested it. As we got busier, we identified that two separate rooms – one as a food and drink area and one as a function room – wasn’t working so well.

“On certain days, we would be struggling to accommodate all our customers in the main bar, while the function area was empty. So, we decided to knock through to make one large room which will also increases our dining area.”

Cleverly, the couple have maintained the versatility of the space by installing bi-folding doors so that, as required, the area can be turned back into two separate rooms.

“While we’re delighted that the dining side of the business has expanded, we haven’t lost sight of the fact that we are a traditional pub for drinkers,” explains Simon, “and part of the newly extended area is still a ‘no food’ zone.”

 “We have a very experienced team in the kitchen, and we offer home-cooked food that isn’t pretentious,” he says. “Our philosophy is: ‘If we can’t make it, we don’t serve it’ – so everything we serve to our customers is home-made.”

Simon is proud that The Mowden is an independent, (and dog-friendly) family-run pub, with their two young teens, Mia and Jude, even helping out on the weekend.

There are plans afoot to introduce a large decked area at the rear, and to improve the beer garden at the front.

The success of the venture is apparent by how busy it is right through the week, with customers travelling from Darlington and further afield to sample the hospitality and warmth that has put The Mowden firmly on the map.


Staindrop Road, Darlington, Co Durham, DL3 9BE

Telephone: 01325 488740