Design focus: The Rumblingwell

On the wall of Star Pubs and Bars’ half-a-million pound pub refurbishment, The Rumblingwell, in Dunfermline, hangs a picture that says, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough’ and the scale of this refurbishment was obviously the result of a designer dreaming big. It’s totally and utterly unrecognizable from its previous life as The Thistle Inn.

Matt Dyson, Star Pubs & Bars Investment Manager in Scotland, said, “We acquired the pub from Punch a few years ago and it had suffered from a lack of investment. We saw the opportunity for a great community pub. It was a great fit for our Just Add Talent scheme and is the first Just add Talent opening in Scotland, as well our first turnover and profit share agreement in Scotland. This enables people to learn how to run their own pub in a supported environment and frees them up to focus on business development, customer service and building their staff team.”

He continued, “We ripped it completely out and started from scratch. It was two rooms and it used to be the case that you were met by a toilet block and went right for the lounge and left for the bar. The toilets have since been moved and we have created a one-room offer. One of the major focuses was adding multiple income streams, so we created a large catering kitchen and did a lot of work on the exterior of the building, like new bi-folding doors and a new window. There was an existing outdoor area to the rear but we’ve added a new one at the front of the building with café style furniture.”

Licensee, Derek Chalmers, who immediately before taking on the lease was assistant GM at The Beehive in Edinburgh, showed me around prior to opening. He added, “The local community absolutely love what we’ve done, as do local businesses who have already booked Christmas nights out, plus the local rugby club is using the bar for its pre-match breakfasts.

“The opening weekend also blew me away. There were people queuing at the bar, which is kind of unheard of in Dunfermline.”

There are screens displaying what the bar used to look like and, as Matt explained, it was formerly two bars, and sitting on a large red rug was a pool table, surrounded by wooden tables and chairs, with the bar on the far wall, as you enter at the front. It now runs along the wall on the left-hand side, from the same perspective.

Let’s start with our verdict on the exterior. It’s been whitewashed, and now boasts a new grey lettered signage and disabled ramp and rope railing. There’s also seating at the back, comprising two large tables and parasols.

Inside, the newly created one main body of the kirk has many little seating areas with everything from church pews to mustard leather banquettes, leather chairs, wooden tables, a wooden floor anda grey parquet floor.

Tucked away at the back of the bar is a wee snug area called The Coorie Inn, which contains candy-striped banquettes, red walls, exposed stone walls and birdcage lampshades.

But it’s the brand new bar itself that’s the jewel in The Rumblingwell’s crown. Crafted from wood and with an ornate framed mirror making up the back bar, in a turquoise colour, with glass shelves.

There are lots of other pictures hanging on the walls, many of them food and drink and general philosophy-related, plus some shelves with bottles on them. There’s also a rather nifty wire mesh panel that props up a tall pew seat.

The place is lit by a variety of pendants, one of the most interesting designs being a thick ropework in place of a wire.

Star Pubs and Bars has thrown a lifeline to this pub as well as a new name (which, incidentally, is a Dunfermline neighbourhood) and let’s hope the mornings show the days and that the phenomenal opening weekend is repeated for many more weekends to come. n

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