A bridge to success as business returns to normal for Leeds pub

CELEBRATION: Coun Richard Lewis and landlady of The Windmill Inn, Janet Bilton.
CELEBRATION: Coun Richard Lewis and landlady of The Windmill Inn, Janet Bilton.
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A pub which saw its trade slump massively following the 2015 Boxing Day floods is celebrating a renewed boom in trade since the reopening of a damaged bridge.

The Windmill Inn, in Linton, near Wetherby, has been the focal point of the local community for more than 400 years, however it saw its turnover drop by 35 per cent following the closure of Linton Bridge.

REPAIRED: Linton Bridge, which was damaged by floods.

REPAIRED: Linton Bridge, which was damaged by floods.

The bridge, over the River Wharfe, was the main artery connecting the pub to regular customers in the nearby village of Collingham.

But, following its closure after the floods, a previously short stroll across the bridge became an hour-long trek or a 20-minute journey by car for anyone wanting to call in to their local.

Only months before, the Windmill had been named ‘2015 Community Pub of the Year’. However, the inn was then cut off from a large part of its customer base and would remain so for more than 18 months while a £4.9m programme of repairs, led by Leeds City Council, was carried out on the 19th century grade II-listed bridge.

During that time, sales at the Windmill dropped dramatically, despite the introduction of a free shuttle bus service and inancial help from the council.

It was a desperate time for landlady Janet Bilton, who took over the pub in 2008, and the team of five full-time and six part-time staff who rely on the pub for their livelihood.

She said: “The last 12 months have been particularly difficult for us and we were really worried that we might not be able to trade through it but the loyalty and commitment of our staff has been amazing. The help we have received from the council has also made a big difference.

”Since the bridge reopened we’ve seen a resurgence in trade and a lot of familiar faces have returned to the pub. Our recent Bonfire Night festivities drew huge crowds and we’ve got a packed festive programme to keep customers coming back.”