Address: Preston Road, Coppull, Chorley
The Plough and Harrow first appeared on the 1881 Census records and was initially called the Coppull Moor Public House. Listed landlords were Amos Aspinall (1881), Joseph Ratcliffe (1891), John Riding Chadwick (1901) and Henry Glover (1911).
The pub was very much a local's pub and was patronised by the significant workforce of the Chisnall Colliery nearby, which is closed many years ago.
Emma Trafford referred to in the newspaper clipping above was the daughter of William Glover and was running the nearby Alison Arms in 1911 with her husband George Trafford whilst her father lodged at the Plough and Harrow with his brother, the landlord Henry Glover. Both pubs appear to have been owned by the Glover family who lived in nearby Blainscough Hall Farm.
The pub closed for business around 1990 and since that time has been run as a restaurant under the guise of "The Coppull Moor" from 1991-2008 and more recently as "Amelie's Restaurant".
The Coppull Moor Restaurant
Manchester Evening News 29 October 2007
It's the phone call you always dread. Booked in at a good restaurant, babysitters primed, tastebuds a-quiver, the voice on the end notes your reservation and then grovellingly apologises.Your table has been cruelly snatched away with the excuse of 'double-booked', 'flood in the kitchen', 'chef eaten something he shouldn't' or 'Gordon Ramsay came in and destroyed our confidence'.Then there is simply a click of the receiver and you're left flicking through the Yellow Pages in search of another place to eat.
Not at The Coppull Moor Restaurant. There was the apology, the explanation (someone in a large party had suffered a sudden bereavement and we would be the only people dining), but then there was an unexpected - and to my mind generous - offer of 50 per cent off the food bill if we rebooked on another date. The Coppull Moor is a standard five course affair and at £34.50 a head the discount dampened our disappointment.
You get that kind of treatment is from a place which obviously thrives on reputation and the restaurant has been operating on the back of it in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it village of Coppull - a stone's throw from the Greater Manchester border between Wigan and Chorley - for 16 years. I've always heard good things about the Coppull Moor. But by word of mouth - chef patron Barry John Rea doesn't seem to go in for marketing much, perhaps he doesn't need to. It certainly is an interesting, if not unique, dining experience.
Barry is rather a one-man band and the five courses come in a single sitting when all diners eat together ("would you be here 7.30 for 8, please").
The building was a bedraggled miners' pub before Barry arrived in 1991, renovated and extended it and there is now a vague Mediterranean look to the restaurant exterior, with white-washed walls, dark blue shutters and lots of greenery. However, inside it is traditionally English, like a small country hotel with a chintzy, eclectic twist. And when you enter, it is very much like walking into someone's home - Barry lives above.
"Go through, I've set a fire," smiled Charles, maitre d' and waiter but with more the air of a butler. The place is so intimate that you initially feel slightly uncomfortable before ripples of relaxation flow over proceedings. The lounge's Victorian fireplace was glowing, there was a heavy tick from the clock on the mantelpiece and the diners - three couples this evening - sank into armchairs, glasses in hand, while their orders were taken. We eyed each other with polite suspicion.
I was half expecting Hercule Poirot to make an entrance and point at me with a white-gloved hand, and it did feel like being in a life-sized game of Cludeo. The butler did it - he took our orders of starter, from a choice of three, and main, from four, with a fixed soup and fish course. There are three dining rooms and we were shown to the smaller one where the intimacy almost dictated we wait until the rest of the tables were served before we tucked in. Opening with poached duck egg reminded me that simple is sometimes best and it ruled the roost over its complementing spinach, snippets of smoked salmon and delicate asparagus tips. With the kitchen showing it can also do complex, Miss Scarlett opposite went for the White and Black Pudding with smoked bacon. Flecks of white pud along with dark combined in a creamy but not cloying whole. It glistened with its creamy mustard seed and honey sauce.
It is always uplifting to try something new and the mushroom soup with madeira and black pudding-infused bread managed that. The bread, inventive, fun and accomplished; the soup, simply thrilling. The madeira - which always reminds me of elderly aunts on late Sunday afternoons - gave a heady, sweet twist to the dark, fecund, thick but foamy soup.
Sadly, the fish course was less successful with the haddock slightly overdone and not aided by a sweet and sour sauce that seemed a touch too exotic for our humble North Atlantic fish - but that's probably my chip shop roots showing.
However, excellence was restored with the mains. Miss Scarlett chose well - slices of blush-pink and cream guinea fowl were accompanied by a not overly robust haggis that took the culinary crown for the evening, and my steamed fillets of sea bass - this time cooked minute-perfect - with a zesty hollandaise, was not far behind. I insisted on the frequent use of the hot tasting plates even though Miss Scarlett gave me a look that could kill. The wine list looked impressive but may be a little out of date as the Sancerre (£32.50) was not the one ordered, though the Pascal Jolivet 2005 is well-regarded and was pleasant enough.
Before dessert, Barry arrived in chef whites to ask if we would like a tasting of all four on the menu. His look was of a man keen to whisk the cloth off his party-piece and we were not disappointed. Sticky toffee pudding, three pigeon egg-sized scoops of various ice cream in a retro brandy-snap basket, a velvety rich and dark, solid mousse and a zingy, palette-cleansing orange and mint crumble. Coffee and petit fours in the lounge was an extra £2.75, but I wanted to let that clock's relaxing tick aid my digestion. The restaurant's menu varies week by week, depending on what catches Barry's eye at Openshaw's New Smithfield Market. This is as much due to his eager creativity as his urge for seasonality, which combine to make The Coppull Moor a characterful dining treat.
The acclaimed Coppull Moor Restaurant, near Chorley, has been sold to the owners of Ferrari's Country House Hotel in Thornley, near Longridge in the Ribble Valley.
The restaurant is situated on a site alongside the A49 Preston Road, between Chorley and Wigan, not far from Greater Manchester and just south of the Yarrow Valley Country Park.
The large, detached, Victorian property was sold for an undisclosed sum but offers in the region of £485,000 for the freehold were being sought. It comprises two lounges with seating for 34 people, three separate dining rooms with seating for 50 people, owner's accommodation, a large private garden and a car park for 20 vehicles.
Andrew Dodd, agency manager of Christie + Co's Manchester office, international restaurant agents for the sale, said: "We marketed the Coppull Moor Restaurant on behalf of chef-proprietor Barry John Rea, who had owned and operated the business since 1991, establishing an enviable reputation for both the food and service and receiving a number of prestigious awards.
"Mr Rea has now retired from the restaurant trade and is emigrating to Portugal.
"Our marketing of Coppull Moor Restaurant resulted in an offer being received within the first three weeks of being instructed. The purchasers are Ginio and Susan Ferrari, who own the 22-bedroom Ferrari's Country House Hotel in Thornley, an acclaimed restaurant, hotel and wedding venue. The Coppull Moor Restaurant will be operated by their daughter and son-in-law to create a fine dining experience."
The Plough and Harrow as a public house may be long-forgotten but its name lives on today in the form of the Royal Mail post-box situated outside.