THE landlord of a popular Buckley pub is to step down in a bid to find a less stressful job.

Ian Freeman has been the licensee at the Black Horse in Mold Road for the last nine years.

His career in the pub and off license trade spans more than 20 years.

Mr Freeman, 58, told the Leader he feels the time is right to move on from the Black Horse - which is owned by the company Red Oak.

He explained: "I've been here for a long time and some goalposts have moved over the years.

"I have had offers of less stressful work with better hours - still in the pub business.

"I'm looking to take on a lesser role because I work seven days a week here and some days can be just a few hours, but others can be 15 or 16 a day.

"One of the positions I have been offered is five days a week, so that would be a lot better.

"The thing with being a licensee is you're always on call as well, and most pubs have to have someone living above them.

"I live above the pub here and you're constantly listening to the jukebox, or when someone bangs the door.

"You don't get time out. Yesterday for example, my wife started at 9am and she didn't finish until midnight.

"There are other things that need doing like paperwork, that's still a long time on your feet working with customers."

Asked what sort of person would be ideal to take on the Black Horse, Mr Freeman explained: "A pub of this level needs a younger person.

"It's very popular and business is good. This job is a commitment and it needs someone with experience.

"From 10am we have got people in their 50s in, then in the afternoon people finish work so tend to have people in their thirties. Then at night we can have people in their late teens and twenties and in this job you have to interact with all of them.

"It's not like a supermarket job where you're a number either - you really have to make the effort to get to know them."

Mr Freeman said his regulars were shocked to hear he is planning step down and he spoke of how he had enjoyed the last nine years in the role.

He added: "It's been fantastic, we have done great. I'd like to say thanks to our customers who have made me smile and cry over the years."

Mr Freeman added he doesn't have any provisional dates for when the pub could be taken on, but he expects it to be within eight to 12 weeks.