Marco Pierre White takes on historic Valley inn

Assheton Arms Downham
Assheton Arms Downham

RENOWNED chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White is set to take over the historic Assheton Arms in the village of Downham.

Since retiring from the kitchen at the end of 1999, White has built up a portfolio of high quality restaurants, inns and hotel. He plans to turn the centuries’ old Assheton Arms back into a traditional public house, serving real ales and great British food.

Marco Pierre White

Marco Pierre White

Its first recorded use as a public house was in the 19th Century when it was known as The Cross Keys. The pub changed its name a number of times over the centuries before becoming known as The Assheton Arms in the 1950s when it was named after Conservative politician Ralph Assheton.

He had previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and was later given the peerage of Baron Clithero of Downham. The pub is still owned by the Assheton family.

Lord Clitheroe does not allow overhead electricity lines, aerials or satellite dishes, making Downham a popular location for filming period dramas. It was one of the locations used in the 1961 film “Whistle Down the Wind”, and the setting for the BBC series “Born and Bred”.

Current landlord David Busby has run the pub for the past 28 years with his wife Wendy, but the couple have now decide to retire after almost three decades behind the bar.

David said: “Wendy and I have enjoyed 28 years in the delightful village of Downham and it has been our privilege to run the Assheton Arms.

“However, it is now time for us to retire and we will be delighted to hand over the reins to such a capable pair of hands. I would like to thank all of our many friends who have supported us over the years and also the Assheton family for leasing this lovely pub for the last 28 years.”

Born in Leeds in 1961 to an English father and French mother, Marco Pierre White has been variously dubbed the first celebrity chef, the “enfant terrible” of the British restaurant scene and the godfather of modern cooking. By the age of 33 he was the youngest chef ever to be awarded three Michelin stars and has trained other well-known chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal.

Known almost as much for his fiery temperament in the kitchen – and his very public fallout with Gordon Ramsay – the three-times-married chef has featured in various TV programmes, notably “Hell’s Kitchen”, and is currently seen on TV screens advertising a range of cooking ingredients for Knorr.

His website (www.marcopierrewhite.org) lists a portfolio of seven restaurants and nine inns or hotels, plus franchises in Dublin and Dubai.