Family take over Hartlepool pub after being regulars for decades

Natalie (left) and Elaine Gooding outside the Harbour of Refuge. Picture by Frank Reid
Natalie (left) and Elaine Gooding outside the Harbour of Refuge. Picture by Frank Reid

FOR a family who spent most of their time in the pub, it made sense to take it over when it went up for grabs.

Elaine Gooding and her family are familiar faces in the Harbour of Refuge pub having drank there for the last 35 years.

But now the family will be on the other side of the bar after they bought the popular ale-house on the Headland.

And they have big plans for the old pub, lovingly known as The Pot House.

Elaine, her husband Colin, 59, their daughter Natalie, 33, and his partner John Daniels, 30, have opened the restaurant at lunchtimes from Tuesday-Sunday and have live entertainment booked for every weekend until the end of May.

Elaine and Natalie are still holding down part-time jobs as they bid to get their new business off the ground, but say they are both enjoying pulling pints for the punters - many of whom happen to be their close friends.

Elaine, a mum-of-three who lives in the nearby Albion Terrace and works as a medical receptionist, said: “The pub has been our local for the past 35 years then one day one of my granddaughters who is only 14 rode past it on her bike and came in and said it was up for sale and we should buy it.

“We just laughed it off at first but then when we sat down and talked about it we decided to give it a go.”

The family set up Good Inns Ltd to take over the pub and now employ nine people.

The deal was done earlier this month and the new owners are keeping the pub open as they give it a new look and decorate on the go.

And although the family admit it is quite difficult to settle in to the new role of running the pub, they have thanked their customers for their 

“Their support has been absolutely great,” said Natalie, a mum-of-three who works as a part-time school admissions officer for Hartlepool Borough Council and lives in Regent Street, on the Headland.

“Obviously it’s quite difficult working part-time and running the pub but we’re getting used to it and it’s been made easier by how good the customers have been with us.

“It’s fantastic to have that support, what we want to do is attract new customers as well.”

As well as the upcoming live entertainment on a weekend throughout the next month, the pub also hosts a weekly quiz on a Wednesday from 8.30pm.

And the owners say they hope to extend the hours in which they serve food in the coming months.

For a list of all upcoming live gigs at the pub visit