Why Shvaughn’s love life lime kiln

The energy Shvaughn Lester puts into running Wirksworth’s lime kiln has only been slightly dampened by the broken foot she is currently nursing. The enthusiasm she has for the long-term project which is one of the most historic pubs in town is intact and infectious and that enthusiasm is growing the business in a pub that has almost ceased to be few years ago.

So named for the limestone quarry that once stood behind it, the Lime Kiln sits on a slope a stone’s throw from the town center on Cromford Road, an imposing three-storey building. About a dozen years ago, the advertising company that owned him dumped him and he was fired. At the moment. Shvaughn’s parents, John and Anne Lester bought it.

“It was an unlicensed pub and my parents bought it with the intention of making it a family home,” says Shvaughn. “But we asked them to open it for a year to see how it goes.” It was a dozen years ago and Shvaughn worked at the Red Lion pub in town. When her parents’ marriage broke up, her father, a full-time firefighter, first wanted to sell the lime kiln.

The Lime Kiln is a Grade II listed building on Cromford Road in Wirksworth.

Instead, Shvaughn took over the leadership. That’s what she’s been doing now for four years, building the pub’s reputation as a down-to-earth outlet with a strong community vibe. Slowly but surely, she gets it the way she wants it and the reputation of her beers, especially the Draft Bass, grows. Shvaughn is the fifth generation of his family from Greenhill to Wirksworth, proud of both that and the work ethic that comes with it.

“It’s a wonderful city, where everyone watches over each other. And the way my brother and I were raised, you had no right to be hardworking,” she says. “My absolute hero is Avis Drury, who was the owner of the Royal Oak in Wirksworth and I want to do what she did. I don’t want to do anything else with my life. This pub is really for the community and I want let him be the center of something like that.

To this end, it sponsors Wirksworth Ivanhoe FC, Derwent Hockey Club and the town’s hugely popular wrestling club. Customers linked to these and his brother’s transport business add to an eclectic clientele in which all ages mingle.

“I have the biggest mix of customers and it’s one of those pubs where you find yourself talking to people,” says Shvaughn. “We don’t have airs or graces and we like everyone to feel comfortable. I’m not doing new! We’ll be doing snacks but it won’t be a restaurant. I want it to be a pub at We have wood stoves, I must have had TVs, I must have had a card machine, but otherwise we remain very traditional.

A painting of the lime kiln in winter on the wall of the pub.
A painting of the lime kiln in winter on the wall of the pub.

The pub is an ongoing project and a listed building: “It had been sunk into the ground. There were gaping holes in the ceiling and things like that so there’s been a complete overhaul but the list of things left to do is longer than my arm and the lockdown has meant that everything slowed down,” she said.

“I was grateful for the pub at the time, otherwise I would have been bored for no reason. I gave a lot of old, unused glasses, asking for a donation to the NHS, and we raised £300 doing this.

Next year’s big project will be the remarkable pub car park, a large space in the shadow of the limestone cliffs with a huge 98ft festival marquee, ideal for putting on music, weddings and all sorts of events. other events. The car park will be asphalted and the marquee will have permanent fixtures so that it can be set up and taken down more easily: “We are very lucky with the car park and the cliffs make it an amphitheater”, adds Shvaughn.

I ask for beer. Shvaughn admits that she was a novice when she started to deal with it, but she learns both quickly and voraciously: “Ah yes, the bass. I’m told it’s the best within a 12 mile radius,” she smiles. “It was a big learning curve to properly store beer. I had to learn quickly and educate myself on the proper storage of beer, but it is a very interesting subject and I like to learn. I just booked myself and a member of my team, Joe Danks, to take a malt whiskey class afterwards. I don’t know anything about whiskey but I like bourbon, which people think is whiskey and it isn’t! The trend for gin is gone, rum and bourbon are all the rage now, but whiskey will always be around so I need to know more about that.

The lime kiln garden is in the shadow of the cliffs.
The lime kiln garden is in the shadow of the cliffs.

The lime kiln will be a hive of activity on Sunday, with a bocce tournament, tug of war tournament, evening karaoke and live music from cover band Facsimile, including Shvaughn’s partner Oliver Taylor -Fry, is a member (he has a bit of pedigree in this area – his uncle was “Philthy” Phil Taylor, the drummer for Motorhead, and an occasional patron of the pub until his untimely death in 2015). Later in the year, Shvaughn has planned a music festival for September 10 and a beer festival for October 15. It’s quite a character, in a pub that has a lot of character, in a city that is full of it. Worth the detour.

Did you enjoy reading this article? You can find more chronicles of beer hunter Colston Crawford here.

Evelyn C. Tobin