New chapter hope for community-run Richmondshire pub

Photo: George & Dragon, Hudswell

The custodians of a multi-award winning pub which was visited by the Prince of Wales after becoming one of the country’s first to be community-run are looking to secure its next chapter after its landlord announced he would be stepping down to brew his own ales.

The board of directors of Hudswell community pub The George and Dragon said they recognised for the inn to remain a welcoming venue for people living in and around the village near Richmond the venture needed to attract visitors as there were too few residents to sustain it.

The latest move to consolidate the pub’s future comes 14 years after it closed before being bought by the community in 2010, becoming one of only a handful of community pubs in the country.

When landlord Stuart Miller took the reins in 2014 the business went from strength to strength, gaining accolades, including being named the Campaign for Real Ale’s national pub of the year in 2016, which was followed by a visit by Prince Charles.

During the pandemic lockdowns when the pub was forced to close its doors, or only serve outside Mr Miller joined forces with the community to supply fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and takeaway beer to the village from the Little Shop located in the pub.

However, Mr Miller has announced he will resign the pub’s tenancy in the summer as he and his wife, Melissa, have bought the farmhouse next door, with the intention of developing some of the outbuildings into a brewery to make real ales.

Martin Booth, a member of the North Yorkshire Rural Commission which last year heralded the importance of community hubs such as The George and Dragon, said 12 years on from the community raising £200,000 to buy the inn the pub had proved its worth.

He said: “It’s had a big impact on village life and there’s no doubt it’s made Hudswell a more attractive and prosperous place to live.

“The pub being a place where people meet has led to other things that have happened in the village, such as social housing we have built, local organisations that have thrived and that we’re now looking to convert the former church into a hostel, which will be run by the Hudswell community charity.

“Stuart has certainly been a very successful tenant, increasing the turnover and winning lots of awards, so he will be a hard act to follow.

“We really want someone who is going to maintain that standard, but there’s always new ideas and we’re not against someone having a different approach because it’s important for people to stamp their personality on the pub.”