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Wanted: Landlord – and monarch – for remote island pub off Cumbria coast

Wanted: Landlord – and monarch – for remote island pub off Cumbria coast
Successful candidate will run unique Ship Inn on tiny Piel Island – after being crowned in a beer-soaking ceremony

One of England’s most remote pubs is looking for a new landlord – with the successful candidate also being named monarch of the isolated islet it is built on.

The Ship Inn sits on tiny Piel Island off the coast of Cumbria.

Now Barrow Borough Council, which owns the 300-year-old watering hole, is on the hunt for a new manager.

The pros, they say, are many: the stunning scenery, the unique location and, more unusually, the opportunity to be crowned ‘King of Piel’. Local tradition means whoever takes over the pub also manages the island and is given the mock royal title in a ceremony which sees them sit in an ancient chair and soaked with beer while holding a sword.

But there are cons, too. The Irish Sea weather can be brutal, power supplies can be hit-and-miss, and the isolation might not be to everyone’s taste. Geographically, the 50-acre island is half a mile off the Furness peninsula and reachable only on a ferry which runs April to September.

“You can’t just nip across to Tesco for a loaf of bread when you’re on Piel Island,” guide walker John Murphy told the Guardian. “You’ll need to have dedication and a strong passion for isolation and peace and quiet. It takes a special personality.”

The decision to seek a new landlord and island manager came after the previous one terminated their contract last year.

Filling the position is seen as key to securing the site’s future, a meeting of Barrow Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee was told at a meeting last week.

Sandra Baines, head of visitor economy and culture with the authority, said the post would be “very much about preserving [the island’s] beauty, its natural habitat”.

But she added the many drawbacks of life on an island meant it was “not the dream people might think it is”.

A report emphasised the point. “Any operator needs to appreciate the constraints offered by power, weather, access and its location within an area of site of special scientific interest,” it said.

The council now hopes to appoint a person early next year with a view to them starting for the new tourist season in April.