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12th July 2022

Cheshire pubs veteran breathes new life into city venue

Publican Jonney Cox and head chef Rob McDiarmid raise a toast to the 'Potts'

A Chester city centre pub which suffered years of troubles is seeing a new lease of life – reborn as ‘The Henry Potts’ following a major investment by the locally based Pubs Ltd estate.

‘Potts’ aims to become ‘top class city centre local’ in the former basement home of the once hugely popular Fat Cat in Watergate House, Lower Watergate Street. The Fat Cat closed with the collapse of the parent company in 2013. Since then, there have been several short-lived incarnations, most recently as the Wrexham brewery owned Big Hand Ale House.

Pubs Ltd is headed by veteran pubs entrepreneur Jerry Brunning, co-founder of the highly successful Brunning & Price chain – who turned an abandoned chandlery on Chester’s neglected canal side into The Old Harkers Arms – ‘Harkers’- to become a thriving city destination.

‘Potts’- the name harks back to the original owner- has opened under the stewardship of experienced publican Jonney Cox, who successfully launched the company’s Hare at Farndon in 2020. Situated just off the city walls near the racecourse, Jonney believes the new venue will welcome both the local community and visitors alike.

He said: “We have an exciting offer with Potts. Everyone loves a village pub, and we see Potts working in the same way – as a top-class local pub in the city while being very welcoming to visitors.”

Watergate House is a Grade II listed Georgian property built in 1820 for Henry Potts, Clerk of the Peace for Cheshire. The new-look refurbishment – including a state-of-art kitchen – retains many original features with intimate alcoves, beams, posts, and original floorboards. Whitewashed walls display period pictures and prints while discreet lighting adds to a warm ambiance.

The ‘modern British’ menu is the creation of award-winning Chester based chef Rob McDiarmid. Rob has mixed the typical traditional classics with more modern cookery, all using locally sourced fresh produce and made inhouse, including the ice cream. With an emphasis on the informal, there is an extensive ‘small plate’ nibbles menu and speciality inhouse-made bar pies for quick and easy dining.

Supporting an extensive forty bin wine list, five house wines are exclusively blended by a French negotiant in Bordeaux and directly imported for tap dispense.

Four cask ales, often from Cheshire, North Wales and Shropshire, will sit alongside the house JPA, a pale ale developed in partnership with Brewlab, the national brewing centre. Craft beers include house brew Mikkeller ‘The Henry Hops’ alongside rotating guests and a cider from Hawkes. There is also a wide selection of single malt and blended whiskies from Scottish, Irish and Japanese distillers together with 70 gin varieties.

Jonney added: “Potts is a little hidden away off the city centre, but we believe we are well worth finding as a quality venue with an inviting and cosy offer. Our substantial investment ensures a warm ambiance, supported by modern British food with flair and a great beer selection for both cask and craft aficionados. And our exclusively blended house wines give us that extra unique feature.”

‘Potts’ is the fourth launch in recent years for the emerging Pubs Ltd estate, which also includes the 18th century Swan at Marbury, The Black Bear in Whitchurch and The Hare at Farndon.


Notes to editors:

*B&P went on to open a successful chain of informal dining pubs across Cheshire, North Wales and Shropshire in the nineties and early noughties and sold to The Restaurant Group (TRG) in 2007.

The Henry Potts, 85 Watergate Street, Chester, CH1 2LF.

Press release from The Henry Potts

Contact: Steve Hobman at Rhino Public Relations,