THE Aviator will continue to be a pub, albeit with a new name, according to its new manager.

The St Ives drinking spot's future was rumoured to be an upmarket restaurant but Steve Kitchener has said his pub's ethos is to be a place to "drink beer, relax and eat".

The Aviator is undergoing a complete refurbishment before it reopens under The Merchant House next month.

Mr Kitchener said: "We know the global drum has been banging and there are rumours around but we'd like to set the record straight.

"It will always be a pub. We would never do anything to change its entity.

"The Aviator has had some bad stick but we have had experience in this type of business before.

"We bought The Yew Tree in Manuden, in Essex, which was the worst pub in Europe at the time and in a year it was the Restaurant of the Week in the Daily Telegraph, but we are no longer associated with that.

"I do think that the general view is that The Aviator had become a bit of an eyesore - a dirty, neglected and a financially unviable business - with not a hand pulled ale or clean glass in sight.

"We hope The Merchant House will be a real asset to the area and trust that, in a year's time, it will be regarded as one of the best pubs in the region."

Mr Kitchener said that it was important to change the name to demonstrate the pub was run differently. He added: "The Merchant House is going to be a really good pub first and foremost with an offering of two handpulled real ales, three lagers, Guinness and Cider on tap, a keg bitter and a variety of bottled beers.

"We will serve food on the pub tables, not in any designated restaurant area, which will be good, fresh home cooking with produce from local suppliers, at value for money prices."

The pub is welcoming CVs for bar staff and when fully staff will have eight employees.

INFORMATION: For more details, visit www.themerchanthouse.net

The Dun Horse

The pub was opened in 1790 and was run by the Arch Deacon's family.

England and Northamptonshire cricketer Edward "Nobby" Clark was a former landlord.

The Aviator

After more than 200 years as the Dun Horse, the pub was renamed as The Aviator in 1992 after a student pilot from Wyton aerodrome crashed into the church spire in 1918 after getting lost.

The Merchant House

Will be renamed in February 2013 to reflect the town as the furthest point inland that merchants could get to on the River Great Ouse in sea faring vessels 900 years ago.