A crowd gathered at lunchtime today (Friday) to check out the £700,000 extension and makeover of The Panniers in Barnstaple. The JD Wetherspoon pub has been closed for four weeks for complete refurbishment, which included expanding into the premises next door to create an extra 130 seats. Barnstaple mayor Julie Hunt was invited to officially reopen the venue at noon, joined by deputy mayor Ian Roome and pub manager Alan Young. Mrs Hunt said she worked as a barmaid herself during her 20s and said it was great for Barnstaple to have a state-of-the-art Wetherspoon to put the town on a par with major cities across the country. She added: I think its a great investment in the town centre and with so much development going on in the outskirts of town, this is brilliant as it will bring more people into the town centre. The Panniers reopened with a new resident draught ale on tap Battleaxe, brewed by GT Ales at Chivenor. Brewers Gary Jarvis and Toby Marsh told the Gazette they had discovered that Barnstaple meant battleaxe post in old English, signifying a meeting place. The beer was created to coincide with the reopening and Gary said they were thought to be the first microbrewery in the country to brew a resident beer for a Wetherspoon pub. Manager Alan Young said the revamp had included a total refurbishment. He added: We were finding that people could just not get seats at peak times. I think it shows that my company has confidence in the town and the town centre and with the theatre reopening we are hoping to rejuvenate the evening side of things and theres definitely a call for it. The pub has an extra 1,200sq ft of space, with the ladies and gents toilets replaced and the disabled facilities refreshed. New doors have been installed at the front, which can be opened up during the warmer weather on both sides of the shop front. Another small beer garden has also been added off the new extension. The kitchen has been upgraded to include pizza ovens, and new staff facilities have been added. There are also new self-service coffee machines for customers.