Keys to unique island pub handed to new landlord

THE keys to one of the UK’s most unique pubs have been handed over to its new landlord.


Earlier this year Barrow Borough Council, the custodian of The Ship Inn on Piel Island, located off the Furness Coast, offered a ten-year lease for the property.


More than 190 individuals registered an interest in the opportunity, with in excess of 30ultimately submitting an application.


With the necessary paperwork and legalities now signed and in place, its keys have been officially handed over to local man Aaron Sanderson - the bidder chosen during the tough selection process.


Aaron, 33, a former electrical team leader at BAE Systems Ltd, is looking forward to settling into his new role at The Ship Inn and welcoming his first customers to the beautiful island.


With the opening day of Monday, May 30 just around the corner, it’s all hands on deck to prepare The Ship for its first customers of the 2022 season.


Aaron said: “The response to the news that I would be landlord at The Ship Inn has been wonderful and overwhelming.


“There’s so much to take in as we embark upon our first season on Piel but I’m incredibly excited about the journey we’re on in this very special place.


“I’ve been visiting Piel myself since I was a child so I know how much summer days out on the island mean to people across the area. It’s also going to be a privilege to welcome those making their first ever trip. There’s nowhere else quite like it so it’s definitely worth the journey.”


Piel Island is just 50 acres in size, hosts an array of wildlife and is home to the ruins of Historic England-run Piel Castle, a now derelict structure built in the 14th Century. 

The island is reachable via a short ferry crossing between April to September. 

Aaron’s role on the island will include opening the historic pub to the thousands of island visitors every summer as well as hosting those who choose to stay overnight at The Ship or at the small campsite nearby.


He will also carry out a range of maintenance duties all while taking into account the sensitivities that go hand in hand with a location that boasts Site of Special Scientific Interest status.


Initially, The Ship Inn will serve drinks only with food set to be reintroduced later this year.


Traditionally, the new landlord of The Ship Inn becomes King of Piel when alcohol is poured over them while sitting in the wooden throne. This special event will take place in the autumn on a date to be determined.


Aaron added: “Living and working on Piel is certainly going to be a challenge but one that I’m ready to get stuck into. 


“Let’s hope we get some great weather this summer and that people enjoy a fantastic, memorable day out on Piel.”


Cllr Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “We’ve said before that Piel Island is a jewel in the crown of our borough and it genuinely is.

“This isn’t a role for the faint hearted but we are delighted that Aaron had a vision for The Ship Inn and Piel and was selected as the successful bidder during the tender process.

“We look forward to the doors of The Ship Inn reopening again for 2022 and the bright future it has ahead of it.”


Notes to editors

For immediate release.

Barrow Borough Council is the custodian of Piel Island and The Ship Inn.

The ferry service to the island is privately operated. Crossings are weather dependent and information can be found on the Piel Ferry Facebook page.

The alcohol pouring ceremony will take place towards the end of the season. No date has been confirmed for this yet.

The Ship Inn will introduce food sales later this year at a date to be confirmed.