A community has rallied round to rescue and reopen a North Yorkshire pub after its sudden closure last month.
Villagers and well wishers in Hudswell, near Richmond, bought and re-opened the George and Dragon, following more than a year of closure in 2009 and formed the Hudswell Community Pub Ltd.
Directors promised then: “Now that the pub is owned by the village and our friends and supporters, we can ensure that, whatever the economic climate, or the performance of our tenants, the George and Dragon will remain open and at the heart of the community in Hudswell for ever.”
Their promise was put to the test in August when the latest tenants announced they were leaving with three weeks’ notice. Directors did not have sufficient time to recruit a new one and as most of the furniture and fittings were owned by the tenant the village was left with an empty pub and little stock.
The board decided while searching for new tenants they would have to open and run the pub themselves. Martin Booth, secretary of HCP Ltd, said: "The alternative would have been a lengthy closure, which we had promised back in 2010 would not happen again. So, on the day the tenants left, the community sprang into action. Furniture, equipment, and pictures for the walls were mostly donated, volunteers cleaned and repainted the pub.
"The ‘transition team’ worked on securing new contracts with suppliers, purchasing equipment and a new digital till and card machine. This was achieved at breakneck speed, with over 30 volunteers and the pub to re-open on Saturday, September 16."
HCP director Ian Whinray added: "The first night was a great success, with almost no publicity word spread that the pub was open and villagers, including many who had not been seen in recent months, poured in. The bar was staffed by a combination of volunteers and experienced staff. It was great to have our pub back.
"Our current plan is to run it with a core team of experienced staff supplemented by volunteers. We have had a great offer from a former tenant and chef to provide Sunday lunches from September 24. Otherwise, for the time being the pub will be providing drinks only with slightly restricted opening times.”
Chair of HCP, Paul Cullen said: “Once again we have proved that the community in Hudswell and our friends and supporters will come together to rescue our pub. It’s a very valuable community asset.”
Mr Booth added: "The local community, led by the transition team have done a great job, but we only want to run the pub ourselves for a few months. The search is on for new tenants. So far, we have had nine enquires.
"However, we are very keen to make sure we get the right tenant to take on our great pub. Despite the rash of pub closures elsewhere, we are firmly convinced the George and Dragon is a viable business that will provides a great opportunity for the right person who has the vision, drive and financial acumen to take our famous village pub into the future."
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