By Ken Bennett

SADDLEWORTH’S iconic Three Crowns Inn will reopen later this month with a new landlord aged 22.

David Harrop is set to become one of the community’s youngest landlords taking over from Ray Hicks who held the title of Saddleworth’s longest serving landlord with 40 years service.

The young Greenfield butcher has secured the tenancy of the landmark pub on Huddersfield Road, Scouthead, which has been empty since May.

The pub will reopen Friday, November 23 at 5pm, with David and partner Holly Neal at the helm.

They have a head chef and up to 20 staff ready, trained and waiting to serve customers.

“I’m very excited and can’t wait,” said David who next month celebrates the first anniversary of opening his butchery and bakery business on Chew Valley Road.

Initially, he showed an interest in the The Clarence at Greenfield.

“But when I found out Jason Worthington, landlord of the Royal George was interested I decided to try for the Three Crowns,” said David.

“However, I have had a lot of third party help from Jason. His advice has been invaluable.

“With a lot of family and friends support, we feel we can make this business very successful.

“Holly’s has green grocery family links and our plan is to introduce a menu of good, tasty home-cooked food at a competitive price.

“There will be a large range of steaks available and an extensive menu including vegetarian and vegan options.”

They plan to introduce themed nights, special boards and wide range of locally brewed ales, brand beers, lagers, wine and spirits.

“Our message is please come and give us a try,” he said.

And today locals, concerned about the pub’s long term future, greeted the reopening news with pleasure.

“it’s very disheartening seeing a pub that was part of the community for so long standing empty,”said stalwart ex-customer who did not want to be named.

“I’m delighted it’s going to reopen and it’s good news the landlord is from Saddleworth too.”

Joan Sykes is chair of Scouthead and Austerlands community Group and the current Mayor of Austerlands.

She said:“The Three Crowns has tremendous heritage with our community. It was a traditional watering hole and stop off for travellers. We wish the new landlord every success.”

Oldham’s former mayor, Derek Heffernan, and a Saddleworth Parish Councillor has been a regular at the Three Crowns for 43 years.

Cllr Heffernan, 79, said: “Under Rays guidance the pub became an icon. It was a really sad loss when it closed and Ray stood down. I certainly hope the new landlord continues the fine traditions. I’ll be calling in.

“They raised thousands for charity, including Macmillan, and they have made a real difference to so many good causes.”

The pubs closure was made public on social media by Ray’s wife Sue, a mother of two.

Ray, 68, who had a distinguished career as a top flight professional rugby league player with Oldham and later Keighley.

Under the couple’s stewardship, The Three Crowns became the hub of the community and raised many thousands of pounds for local, national charities and worthwhile good causes.

And over the years the pub collected a host of brewing industry related accolades and several distinguished awards for its beautiful external floral displays.

Ray received a special certificate from the Rochdale, Oldham and Bury branch of CAMRA, the brewery watchdog, in recognition of services he provided the branch