“It’s a bit random,” says Louise Treseder of her own establishment. She’s part publican, guesthouse host, brewery owner, events organiser and restaurateur. A miss-match, hotchpotch of varying types of establishments and roles all rolled up into one.
So, that’s the Driftwood: a 17th century building, with a name that hints at its history, that’s been a public house and B&B for many years. Spars from wrecked ships turned ceiling beams in the bar, other bits of flotsam off the beach and a modern twist of contemporary styling have turned the present Driftwood Spars into a genius piece of arty-craft and mistress of all things to all folk.
To try to market the Driftwood as a ‘bit of everything’ can be a bit of a problem. “We’re a friendly, traditional, local pub with cosy bars, wood burning stoves and have been playing host to an eclectic mix of live music since the 1960s,” Louise explains. The Driftwood can even boost that the band ‘Queen’, before they were famous, once played in the bar when local Truro School boy, Roger Taylor, came to visit with the rest of his band mates. “But from the point of view of marketing ourselves the pub and live music is only one feature of many our parts.”
There are many reasons why the Driftwood is worth stopping by; a pub, but also a restaurant, a brewery, a shop and a B&B that has recently retained its AA 4* accreditation for its guest accommodation. Plus the location is pretty special in itself. St Agnes is full of contrasts. From wooded valleys and ruined tin mines to dramatic seascapes which can change in character and colour from one day to another, with weather and the seasons, from crashing surf to a mirror of pewter with a myriad of number of blues, greens, greys and aqua shades in between.
The Driftwood’s location, just above Trevaunance Cove and right beside the coastal path, makes it a perfect spot for stopping by for coffee, a pint or a meal. The food is sourced as locally as possible, freshly cooked and tasty and has won an AA Dinner Award. The Driftwood has also recently been ranked number four in a guide published by The Times newspaper, describing the “open, sun-swamped restaurant” and explains how the “superb” lunch and dinner menu is “dominated by fresh fish landed in Newlyn”. Only two other pubs in the whole of Cornwall and Devon made the top 50 list.
This April, the Driftwood Spars was named Britain’s Freehouse of the year in the Publican Awards 2011. The judges of the trade magazine, ‘The Publican’ were looking for evidence of a pub that offers something unique, financial success, investment, long-term development plans and excellence in staff training. Not a bad accolade for a landlady who is still only 38 years young and has only owned the Driftwood for 4 years. “Last year we were a finalist in this category which showed we were doing really well, but now we’re gaining more and more national recognition for what we offer,” all thanks, she acknowledges to Lou’s crew – a fantastic team who make it happen.
They were also looking for a pub which “provides an unbeatable experience for its customers” and “which is clearly out-performing the competition”. The Driftwood also demonstrated improvements such as gaining a wedding license and diversification through the pub’s microbrewery and shop. The Driftwood also hosts conferences, a ‘Sausage & Ale festival’, film nights and summer theatre in their cliff top garden. Louise said: “We are at the heart of the community and our work to extend the season with more events is having a positive effect on the rest of St Agnes. We do our best to combine innovation with tradition. This is a 17th Century pub steeped in tradition, but we’re doing everything we can to appeal to a modern market.”
Indeed, the girl’s done good. She’s the third generation Treseder in hospitality. This is the same family Treseder who have been Cornish nurserymen spanning 150 years, but plants are not their only specialty it seems. Her granny started by running a B&B to earn some extra income on the family farm, her parents with the Brookdale Hotel in Truro, and now, not only does she rent rooms and run a pub, she’s even got herself her very own microbrewery.
Three of the Driftwood beers are available on pump at the pub, with bottle brews available at the bar on to buy from the Driftood’s own off-licence ‘Into the Brew’. They also supply barrels to beer festivals around the country and a few select local pubs, even shipping bottles of Driftwood beer to the British Embassy in Kuwait. The Driftwood Spars has also been named CAMRA Kernow Pub of the Year for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010.
Brewer, Peter Martin, has now developed 9 very individual and different brews in total. Including ‘Red Mision’ for which proceeds of the sale go to the Air Ambulance and ‘Lou’s Brew’, created specially to be the landlady’s favourite, pleasing her personal palate for a light hoppy beer.
For Further information: The Driftwood Spars, Trevaunance Cove, St. Agnes, TR57 0RT T: 01872 552428 http://www.driftwoodspars.co.uk