DRINKERS were 'shocked' when they were turfed out of their local pub mid-drink.

Shortly after the closure, the board outside the pub had been graffitied with a message slamming the former landlords.

The Horseshoe Inn, in Ringley, changed hands this week, with new owners Eileen Donald and her husband Andy taking it on.

Regulars at the Fold Road venue have criticised the former owners for 'letting the pub go downhill'.

Thwaites brewery said they were 'saddened' at the comments and hoped residents would focus on the 'exciting future'.

On Sunday afternoon, around 12 merrymakers are understood to have been asked to leave suddenly.

"We were having a drink, then at around 4.15pm we were told to drink up and the pub was shutting because they had received threatening phone calls the night before", one drinker said.

"We went over the bridge to La Roma Restaurant but when we were walking back, a rude message had been written on the board."

A sign on the chalk board outside the pub read 'Closed due to changeover. You're all a set of c****."

Dozens of residents have taken to social media in response to the message, with some labelling it 'shocking' while others criticised the former owners.

Another said: "It's a great pub with a great atmosphere but they just seemed to drain the life out of it.

"People slowly stayed away. I've been in on a Saturday afternoon and been the only person in there."

Former chef at the pub Jo Prince said: "I worked at the Horseshoe over summer but left due to various reasons of the management."

The pub, which overlooks the River Irwell, was listed on 'Find My Pub' as 'under offer' for a rent price of £40,545.

On Monday night, the venue reopened under new management, with several residents pledging their support.

Thwaites Director of Pubs and Brewing, Andrew Buchanan, said: "We are saddened to see the comments surrounding the Horseshoe and we hope that people will focus on the exciting future.

"We have invested substantially in the pub, with a significant refurbishment both inside and outside, including the kitchen, which shows our commitment to the community.

"We are pleased to announce Eileen Donald has taken over the helm, with some great plans and she is very much looking forward to welcoming everyone in for some great beer and food."

Resident Kerri Burbidge said: "I'm ready to support the new owners and think we should get behind this pub. It's got so much potential and is by far the best setting in the village. Come on Stoneclough, let's save our lovely Horseshoe."

Landlady Eileen lived in Stoneclough until five months ago, and worked as a cook at the Horseshoe between 2001 and 2005 under owners John and Maureen Kirby.

Eileen, aged 53, said: "We are feeling positive. We are from the village. This is our local.

"I know what it can be. I worked there in its heyday. There has been three landlords since then.

"We will be providing good home-cooked food and taking it back to how the villagers wanted it.

"I'm hoping people come and try it out, try the food, and support us as local people doing something good for the local community."

Eileen and husband Andy, aged 55, have recruited two new staff members, taking the team to eight.

New menus are currently in production and food will be served at the venue from noon on Friday.

Food will be provided 12-2pm and 5pm-8pm, Monday to Saturday, and 5-8pm on Sundays.