Published on November 5th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


Wham Fram thank-you man

New pubs are always a joy to behold, writes Alastair Gilmour

It might be rather fitting that a new pub is opening between Aykley Heads and Pity Me, near Durham City. Fram Ferment at Framwellgate Moor is described as a bottle shop and taproom – and, as it’s run by the team that has made the Station House in Durham such a roaring success, its future is ready to bubble up.

Fram Ferment, opening in late November in premises formerly occupied by an NHS clinic next to the legendary Tap & Spile, is the creation of Susannah and Chris Mansfield. They decided to do something different to what’s on offer at their Station House venture under the viaduct at Durham Station and even the name doesn’t immediately shout “pub’.

Apparently, Chris needed a project to get his teeth into, having given up the day-job in lighting electronics. “Beer is more exciting than lighting,” he says. There’s no arguing with that.

Susannah says: “We’re basically projects-driven people and love the Station House to bits as we do, we’ve done as much as we can there. It’s going well, ticking over nicely.”

The enterprising pair had looked at a couple of places in Darlington and in Durham, but each had its drawbacks. 

“This was probably the blandest unit we looked at, but after we viewed it we thought this might be the one,” says Susannah. “It’s a different customer base to the Station House and we didn’t want to replicate what we have there or hurt the existing business.”

Framwellgate Moor is a busy village with a population that supports its locality – predominantly settled families and not as student-led as Durham City. A bottle shop and taproom would suit the clientele who might want to try different beers, wines and ciders but can’t get out to the pub as often as they would like through family commitments.

Customers should also come via the Sainsbury’s supermarket up the road, the Arnison Centre close by, and a renowned Indian restaurant and takeaway next door.

“It was a gut feeling that we knew could work,” says Chris. 

Susannah says: “A lot of Station House customers come from here but we’re not trying to steal custom from the Tap & Spile; that’s why we’re doing different things to what they do. We’ll have a coffee machine and lots of non-alcoholic drinks. A lot of people want to come into pubs and socialise but don’t want to drink.”

What swung the premises for Chris was the large room at the back which he immediately identified as a good-sized, very workable cellar. Beer will come straight from keg and cask via short line lengths to the five taps and hand-pulls.

“We’re definitely excited to get the place open,” says Susannah. “Chris falls in love with characterful places that turn out to be money pits, but I can see practicalities like stairs and where you keep your bins. We spent a long time thinking about how it should be and that it should not just be about beer. 

“People tend not to think of the Station House as selling wine, gin and cider as well as beer.” 

Fram Ferment’s bar counter is a former Methodist chapel pulpit. Furniture and bits and bobs came from a redundant micropub near Scarborough and have been sitting in storage waiting to once more see the light of day. Pew seating and a feature dresser have lately been in use in Chris and Susannah’s house, again earmarked for a starring role as and when the occasion demanded.

The two enthusiasts possess an extraordinary depth of knowledge about what they offer. Susannah is a qualified pomellier, having graduated in cider specialism at the Beer & Cider Academy.

She says: “It’s a three-day course where you submit an in-depth portfolio and present it then pass taste tests on styles and faults. I did the cider course rather than the beer one as cider is what I was least comfortable in my knowledge about.”

Framwellgate Moor is on the highly-efficient Go North East bus service 21 and X21 between Newcastle and Durham. Just saying…

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Alastair Gilmour

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