Since the reign of Queen Victoria, The William Garland pub has been a well-known landmark which sits right at the heart of Caterham Valley, albeit for most of that time under its former name, The Old Surrey Hounds. The new name, bestowed upon it in 2017 after a renovation by owners Greene King, recognises William Garland Soper, “the father of modern Caterham”, who did so much for our town in the 19th century.
On a swelteringly hot July day, we called in to meet up with new general manager Glyn Ward to find out how he’s settling in to what is a relatively new career after 19 years spent flying all around the world in his former role as airline cabin crew.
“It’s different – very different!” smiles Glyn, who took over earlier this year. “There are lots of similar skills needed, like people skills, but there’s also so much technical stuff to learn.”
However, he did have chance to find his feet behind the bar before finally making the full-time switch to hospitality.
“I was working part-time at a pub in Crawley, then when I was made redundant from my cabin crew job due to the impact of Covid, I made the move into pub management.”
Glyn is loving being part of the Caterham community and, as well as getting to know his customers, he is also keen to strengthen the pub’s ties with other local businesses – for instance, flowers are now supplied by The Floral Gallery, located just a hop, skip and jump away on the other side of the roundabout.
With its spacious, cosy interior and leafy garden, the family- and dog- friendly pub is a venue for all seasons. Today, the garden is a cool oasis with a welcome breeze and shade from the trees and parasols. It is a favourite spot with shoppers and workers alike. “I come here if I need to make some calls and get away from the office for a while,” one local businesswoman explains as she settles down at a table with her laptop and ice-cold drink in a shady corner.
Glyn is working hard to build up the pub as a real community hub, and ensures there’s plenty to appeal. Monday is quiz night (8pm), and every Saturday sees a different live music act. And whether you fancy sipping a summer cocktail or trying one of the new Greene King craft beers, there’s a huge choice of drinks, as well as a tempting menu of what Glyn describes as ‘good British food’, which is prepared right there on the premises.
He’s very happy to hear from groups who’d like to use the pub, too, from coffee mornings to meetings and celebrations. “Just get in touch.”
When he manages some precious free time off, it’s up, up and away for Glyn, who holds a pilot’s licence and loves nothing more than hiring a small plane from Redhill Aerodrome for a quick spin over the Surrey and Sussex countryside, or maybe a day trip with friends to the Isle of Wight.
We’re sure the sky’s the limit for the new manager of The William Garland and wish him and his team all the best as they settle into life as a valued part of the Caterham Valley community.