Landmark Copt Hill pub to reopen with emotional connection after being taken over by successful hospitality brand Tavistock

A landmark pub is set to start a new chapter in legacy of a much-loved hospitality boss.
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The Copt Hill in Seaham Road has long stood guard over Houghton and Hetton from its prominent position atop the historic hill top site.

It’s changed hands numerous times over the decades, but has been boarded up for a number of years.

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Now, it will be pulling premium craft and cask pints once more in the hands of Tavistock Hospitality in memory of the successful company’s founder Mark Hird who passed away in 2019 when he was just 46.

The Copt Hill has been taken over by Tavistock HospitalityThe Copt Hill has been taken over by Tavistock Hospitality
The Copt Hill has been taken over by Tavistock Hospitality

Mark was at the helm of Tavistock and steered a number of North East venues to success, including the firm’s flagship Roker Hotel and Poetic License site and The Italian Farmhouse in West Rainton.

In the early days of his career the city businessman ran The Copt Hill in partnership with 1973 SAFC star Bobby Kerr before selling it on – but he’d long wanted to get the site back in the Tavistock portfolio.

His wife Nicola, who heads up the company, has now taken over the site and will be bringing it back in his memory.

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Tavistock Hospitality design and marketing director, Lex Adair, said it was an exciting acquisition for the brand.

Mark Hird pictured at Italian Farmhouse Restaurant, West RaintonMark Hird pictured at Italian Farmhouse Restaurant, West Rainton
Mark Hird pictured at Italian Farmhouse Restaurant, West Rainton

"The Copt Hill has always been something that we’ve had our eye on as a business,” he said. “Our founder Mark Hird was in partnership with Bobby Kerr at The Copt Hill, and that’s where he met his soon to be wife Nicola there. It’s really where it all began.

“Mark wanted to set up his own hospitality venture with Nicola, so shortly after marrying they opened 11 Tavistock Place in Sunderland. The building was previously an old paint warehouse called Hector Grabhams, which they had to completely renovate and restore. This is where the Tavistock brand came from, and Tavistock Hospitality was born.”

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He added: “Mark always said he had unfinished business with The Copt Hill, and over the years tried to buy it quite a few times. Unfortunately, he never managed to finalise the deal, and tragically passed away in December 2019. Nicola has since taken over Tavistock Hospitality in its entirety and has now managed to purchase the property to honour Mark’s wishes to finish what he started.”

Major works on ongoing at the siteMajor works on ongoing at the site
Major works on ongoing at the site
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Major works are currently underway at the site. It will keep its historic Copt Hill name, but other than that, people can look forward to a whole new identity inside.

Lex said: “We’ll be making The Copt Hill what it used to be; a proper, traditional pub. The focus will be on really high quality, locally sourced food, but we’ll also be featuring premium craft and cask beer from around the area too. We want to create a fantastic community pub with a few surprises thrown in the mix.”

Although there’s no official opening date yet, the team is hoping to complete the project by mid-September.

Lex says the firm has already had a great response to the take over and that they’re looking forward to welcoming people through the doors.

The site has a long and colourful history in the areaThe site has a long and colourful history in the area
The site has a long and colourful history in the area
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“The response we’ve had from the community has been fantastic,” he said. “Everyone seems really excited about seeing, not only what it’s going to be, but what we’re going to do with it."

He added: “People seem genuinely really happy that Tavistock Hospitality now has ownership, and after sharing it on our various Social Media platforms, one post alone had 37,000 interactions.”

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