The Yorkshire villagers intent on reviving their local
A major refurbishment project is underway to restore a dilapidated village pub that has been purchased by the community.
Villagers in Church Fenton near Leeds have bought the White Horse from Enterprise Inns, one of two pubs in the village which has shut in recent years.
After convincing the local parish council to support their cause, a publics works loan was secured. It provided more than £500,000 for the parish council to buy the pub and then lease it back to the community.
A subsequent community share scheme has raised over £40,000, which is going towards the pub’s ambitious refurbishment.
The refurb is spearheaded by H&P Pubs, the new tenants of the White Horse. The company also runs The Boundary House pub in Methley.
Some 18 pubs a week are closing, according to the Campaign for Real Ale, but despite the financial challenges facing pubs, Nigel Thirkill, chairman of Church Fenton Community Hub, is confident the White Horse will thrive.
“If you get a pub right, those things aren’t an issue,” he said.
“There are pubs that are trading phenomenally well, turning over a significant amount of money a year and those pubs have the ticks in the boxes that you need.”
The vision for the White Horse, which has been closed since 2016, is to create a bar and restaurant with “a significant outside offering”.
“We hope the community will be absolutely over the moon with what we have brought back to them,” Mr Thirkill said.
Chris Cowcher, head of community business at the Plunkett Foundation which has supported the White Horse project, said community pubs are standing the test of time.
“Given that none of these kind of community-run enterprises have closed to date, it seems to be a really positive step for locals to take in order to safeguard a valued facility at the heart of their community.”