AN old soldier will be remembered for always when a plush new pub opens in Erlestoke – the owners of The George and Dragon have named the bar in honour of the mystery warrior.

The main bar will now be known as Wheeler’s Bar, in tribute to a local who used to drink there after his soldiering days were done.

The touching commemoration comes after builders renovating the building discovered a brass plaque which read: “In Memory of Robert Henry (Harry) Wheeler 1913-1996, Private Royal Marines WW2 1939-45. ‘There’s nothing I can’t handle’. Simply the best.”

Now, as part of an extensive refurbishment which has cost around £500,000, Harry’s plaque will take pride of place in his local.

New landlord, Wiltshire businessman Paul Gardner, wants to invite any of Harry’s remaining relatives in the area to come and see The George in its new facelifted splendour.

“We presume that Harry was a regular here, because of the plaque,” said Mr Gardner, 64, who owns Absolute Solvents at Westbury and Springcombe Park Stud at Bruton. “We would very much like to find any family that Harry has still living in the area, so that they can see how his old local looks now.”

The George has been closed for six years, leaving Erlestoke with no pub at all. But Mr Gardner’s Chaffinch Pub Company bought it and set to work transforming it.

All the old beams of the 17th Century inn have been stripped back and revealed, authentic wooden floors are being laid, a beer garden is being built, traditional Old Britannia pub tables and church pews installed. There are open fireplaces all over the building – including in the ladies loo – a copper-top bar, old-time cast iron radiators, Arts and Crafts object d’art and the wine glasses will be crystal.

“We are spending a lot of time on the little touches that will make the pub extra special. You won’t recognise it, it will be nothing like before,” said Mr Gardner.

“When The George was closed it was never expected to become a pub again. But now it’s going to be the sort of pub you’ve always wanted.”

“The big thing we are focussing on will be the food, The George will be very food-driven,” said Mr Gardner, whose team have created a stunning, oak-beamed restaurant on the second floor and another room for private dining hire above that.

Taking charge of what is set to be a very busy kitchen will be Ryan McCartney, formerly of the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton’s acclaimed Social Eating House in London.

“Besides the bar menu we’ll be presenting fine dining, British produce cooked with French techniques. You’ll come here for the experience,” said 30-year-old Ryan, who has spent £152,000 on a new kitchen.

“For the private dining room, where you will have your own waiter, we’re thinking of offering a tasting menu paired with great wines. It’ll be a Michelin taste of London.”

With more than 4,000 followers on Instagram before the pub even opens at the end of this month [November], the new team is expecting to be busy.

“I think people will come from miles around,” said Mr Gardner, “it’s going to be a hidden gem, a bit different from everywhere else. Wiltshire’s not going to know what’s hit it.”

Mr Gardner revealed one extra touch of which Harry may have approved:

“We won’t be selling any German lagers. Our beers and lagers will come from Wiltshire and Somerset only, there’s some great micro-breweries in the area and we are going to support them.”