The Brudenell Social Club owners have bought a pub in Otley

Leeds music venue The Brudenell Social Club and Kirkstall Brewery have teamed up to save an historic Otley pub from closure.

Sunday, 14th April 2019, 11:22 am
Updated Sunday, 14th April 2019, 11:54 am
The Black Horse Hotel in Otley

They've bough the Black Horse Hotel on Westgate - one of Otley's traditional coaching inns - and plan to turn it into a craft ale and live music hotspot.

Local campaign and preservation group Otley Pub Club are said to be delighted at the news that the Black Horse will be given a new lease of life.

A community group called LS21 had previously launched a bid to take over the pub, which has been for sale since autumn 2018, but were unable to bring their plans to fruition.

Otley's live music scene took a hit after the closure of venues Korks and the Civic Centre, so the news that bands may play at the Black Horse will be a boon for the town's nightlife.

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Kirkstall Brewery has refurbished and re-opened two Kirkstall pubs, The Bridge and The Cardigan Arms.

The original Black Horse was built in 1821, but later demolished and replaced with the current Victorian structure in 1902.

The Black Bull and White Swan would both have a revamp that involves the installation of industrial furniture and open plan seating.

The two historic taverns were purchased by Heineken's pub company, Star Pubs and Bars, in 2017. The Grade II-listed buildings are both inside the boundaries of the Otley Conservation Area.

The plans for the Black Bull, which dates back to the 16th century, show that the inn's old frontage and heritage signs would be replaced by modern 'steakhouse' stencilling. The company has stated that it wants the Black Bull to become a 'modern, stylish' pub.

The Black Bull was where Oliver Cromwell's soldiers are said to have drunk just before fighting in the Battle of Marston Moor during the English Civil War. Over the years a wealth of historic finds have been made there, including an 18th-century well and water pump which were discovered in 2003, a 16th-century stone fireplace uncovered during building work in 1971, and what is thought to have been the original door from the Market Place to the building dating from before it became a hostelry.

In 2006, the Kay Mellor TV drama The Chase, which was set in a family-run veterinary practice, was filmed in the Black Bull.

The 250-year-old White Swan's interior will undergo a major refurbishment that will see its traditional, cosy multi-room layout replaced with a more open-plan arrangement. The plans reveal proposals to introduce 'industrial-style furniture contrasted with softer with softer botanical features and finishes to turn the pub into an attractive space with a trendy, city-centre feel'.

A statement from the Otley Pub Club's members said:-

"This is an absurd attempt to turn this popular,historic, traditional listed local into a young person’s venue and dining pub, even though experts and the current landlord are adamant this would fail, leaving the pub empty and threatening its future."

The organisation also believes that turnover projections for both pubs are 'wholly unrealistic' taking into account local competition.

Otley Pub Club have written to Heineken/Star asking to meet with them in Otley and agree to either come up with appropriate plans to retain the historic character of both pubs or sell them.

Hyde Park-based Brudenell isn't the only popular Leeds music venue to expand into the pub trade. The Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen recently bought former Mitchells and Butler site The True Briton in Meanwood, and plan to turn it into bar with street food kitchens and a roof terrace that will host music, comedy and film nights.The owners, Rose Thirteen Ltd, also run Headrow House.