The George and Dragon

A story I saw in Google News today:

A village pub which boasts a library and a shop after it was saved from closure through a community buyout has been named the best in the country.

The George & Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, closed in 2008 after the owners went bankrupt, but regulars formed a co-operative to buy and refurbish it before it reopened in 2010.

It has now been named Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

Its closure left the small village with no facilities other than a community hall, and locals were determined that on re-opening it would offer more than a traditional pub.

As well as acting as a meeting place and venue, it is now home to the village library, a local shop staffed by volunteers, community allotments and free internet access for its patrons.

I wonder what happened in 2008 that bankrupted the owners, and forced it to close?

hudswell_mapHudswell is a little string of houses on a road beside the river Swale in Yorkshire. It’s barely half a mile long. Doing the ton in a souped-up car, you’d pass through it in the blink of an eye on your way to nearby Richmond castle. There can be scarcely 100 people living in the village. And the George and Dragon is its single tiny pub:


What’s puzzling me is: given that it had plenty of regulars who frequented it, why did it go bankrupt? If a pub has got lots of regulars, it shouldn’t go bankrupt.

Could it have been the Credit Crunch that began around that time? Was it the regulars used to buy drinks on credit, and when they couldn’t get any credit, the pub folded? Or was it that when a big supermarket selling cheap canned lager opened in Richmond, the locals started buying their beer there?

The proximity of the flood-prone river Swale probably has something to do with it.

RESIDENTS of flood-hit properties in North Yorkshire are still counting the cost after seeing huge increases in their insurance premiums.

The riverside Topcliffe Mill development, near Thirsk, was flooded in 2012 after levels of the River Swale rose.

When I lived in Devon, the River pub got flooded during a storm. The lane outside my house was knee deep in water that day.

That must be the explanation.

There was a catastrophe. There was a storm one day – say, 1 July 2007 – when the river Swale rose, burst its banks, ruined all the stock and furniture in the George and Dragon, and drove out all the regulars. Perhaps some of them were even swept away down the river, never to be seen again. The pub limped on for a few more months, until the owners filed for bankruptcy.

I can’t think of any other possible explanation for it.

But the regulars banded together to buy it and refurbish it, and turned it into not just a pub, but also a library, a little shop, with even allotments in the back garden. Quite how they managed to fit all of them inside such a tiny pub, I don’t know. But then, a pub is a sort of shop, with a counter and a till. So perhaps in among the whisky and wine bottles they now display tea, milk, sugar, eggs, sausages, and of course vegetables from the allotment. And the library books would of course be arranged along the walls around the few tables in front of the bar.

So you can now come in after a hard day digging your allotment, order a pint of beer and a pound of sausages, and carry on reading the Enid Blyton novel you started last week.

In such manner its phoenix-like resurgence has been accomplished. Other pubs, in similar circumstances, became pub-restaurants. But in Hudswell, the innovative locals turned theirs into a pub-shop and library, with allotments at the back. No wonder it’s been named Pub of the Year. Where else can you buy a pound of sausages with your pint of beer, and have a library of books surrounding you?


About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The George and Dragon

  1. roobeedoo2 says:

    There was terrible flooding in June & July 2007. There was that whole, Blair/Brown handover going on and, of course, the smoking ban came into effect from 1st July that year. If I remember correctly, the Brown Gorgon was being hailed in the press as the new UK savior in wellies (‘Not flash, just Gordon’).

    Then the run on Northern Rock bank started and basically it all went tits up for him (and the Labour Party) from there on in. Tbh, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of fuckwits.

  2. Pat Nurse says:

    I’ll bet this so called pub, which sounds more like a local shop that sells a couple of beers to locals, doesn’t sell tobacco. Smokers are not members of this elitist community’s group so what difference if it opened as a shop or a pub or a gym.

  3. I, as I suspect many here were, was brought up on Ladybird books. Inparticular there was a ‘Ladybird Book Of British KIngs’ and right from the moment then-not-so-aged-Mother sat me down upon her knee and read me the accounts of Great Kings of Yore and of King Canute, I learnt a valuable life lesson (particularly living in a part of the country that loses metres of itself to the North Sea every year): You can only fuck with nature so long before it turns round and bites you on the arse.
    You build or buy a house (or a business-which is what a pub is , NOT an ‘amenity’) anywhere which has an historical record of flooding, then don’t come grizzling to me when the ‘measures’ taken (or not) to keep the waters at bay suddenly ‘fail’ , and don’t expect the Great British Public to bail you out either directly from tax nor indirectly via raised premiums across the board . I have some sympathy for those who inherit property or have no choice but to rent where they can find somewhere- those are the people who deserve compensation.
    A little while ago, in the Fair City Of Norwich I spied a new build block of luxury flats with a plaque affixed similar to this one (which is the one round the corner ):

    Right rant about Great British ‘entitled’ homeowners over, I have a sneaking suspicion Pat Nurse is right. The sorts of beer outnumbered by soya/goats/organic-Yak’s-hand-milked-by-nepalese-virgins varieties of faux milk and those sausages, Frank, will be free trade organic tofu .

  4. Frank Davis says:

    I was, of course, engaged in the modern custom of blaming everything but the obvious.

    There is no possibility whatsoever that the George and Dragon was flooded by the river Swale in the gorge below. It’s probably at least 100 feet above it. This video of waterfalls along the river Swale gives some idea of it:

    No, what bankrupted the little pub was almost certainly the smoking ban of the previous year. It probably never had many customers, and the ban was the death blow. In order to survive, it’s had to do what most other pubs have had to do to survive – become something other than a pub. In this case, something other was a shop and library.

    None of this was mentioned in the article, of course.

  5. Rose says:

    Hospital smoking ban forces patients onto dangerous roads, says trust

    “An NHS hospital is refusing to ban smoking on its premises because it believes doing so would put patients in danger of speeding vehicles.
    The bosses of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals in Dorset are defending their use of designated smoking areas despite pressure from Government health officials.
    The trust said it had previously tried a ban of smoking on its grounds, but that this had only forced smokers dangerously close to the adjacent main road where cars and lorries frequently travel at 50 mph.”

    “Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the campaign group ASH, said: “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable premature death in Britain killing nearly 100,000 people a year compared to less than 2,000 who die from road traffic accidents.

    “The single most important change that smokers can make to improve their health is quit – Bournemouth should be doing more to support quitting not facilitating smoking.”

    Once again it shows that Tobacco Controllers can’t distinguish between “maybe in 50 years time” and instant death.

  6. Clicky says:

  7. “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable premature death in Britain killing nearly 100,000 people a year compared to less than 2,000 who die from road traffic accidents.”
    And there has probably not been a sentence so imbued with sheer humanity hating evil since that other infamous public health fusspot said ‘Ein Reich, ein Volk….’

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Oh she’s just lovely, isn’t she? Abhorrent Toad, indeed… */spits…*

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        Yeah, kind of like a torturer claiming that punishment and pain is good for the victim. All just a way to justify hatred against smokers…

    • Rose says:

      She got one thing right, B.D.

      “If smokers are marginalised in our society there is a danger that they will begin to see their habit as a badge of honour”

      She’s been in post for 13 years now turning decent people into social outcasts and that’s got to have an effect. Clive Bates only managed 6.


      • smokingscot says:

        In 2014 she was reputed to be earning in excess of £90k a year and almost certainly is well over £120k when all the other anti smoking secretarial posts are included. I’m going to go out on a limb on this and guess she was probably a good 10% up on that in 2016, what with her outstanding success with plain packs and such.

        Add fully funded jaunts to all the COP meetings – her and husband – and it’s the sort of lifestyle that many women of her age and with very marginal qualifications might envy.

        I suspect the post may even include some sort of deal for a fully funded vehicle – and based on position as well as “responsibility” might be in the Beemer 3 type category.

        Bear in mind she is the face of Tobacco Control, so to an extent she needs to be able to carry it off. Access to government ministers, fronting up with the great and good of TC and so on means a certain arrogance is called for. That she’s got in spades.

        And her response to this hospital is exactly what the people who put her in this position want to see, so perhaps what she’s doing is trying to get a better appraisal assessment. They sought a bitch with attitude and ambition – and that’s what they’ve got.

        If I’m correct then we could be talking about anything up to a 6% hike in salary. And as I find with these “career ladies” that’s ALL that matters.

        One thing she does have is deep insider knowledge. SHE’S DANGEROUS NOW. What they don’t want is her writing a book, or spilling her guts – and that’s why she’s been in the job for so long.

        • nisakiman says:

          Every photo I’ve ever seen of her she always looks like she’s just sucked a lemon. I suppose a sour disposition is a prerequisite for a job that is essentially about heaping misery on the heads of those of whom you disapprove.

        • Joe L. says:

          Whenever I see Debbie, I see a striking resemblance to Skeletor from Masters of the Universe…

        • Joe L. says:

          Wanted the image, not a link. Wish we could edit comments.

        • Some French bloke says:

          In the case of such a TC ‘luminary’ deciding to ‘spill the beans’, the strategy would likely be to spill only part of the beans (namely that the second-hand smoke scare has been a complete hoax from the word go, but the ‘rotten science’ message was only devised to better drive home the smoking ≈ LC message), in the process reinforcing the impresion that the Original Lie was instead grounded in serious science, and with the ultimate result of giving a new impulse to the unmerry-go-round.

        • @SFB, imnsho your supposition is absolfuckinglutely correct. That is exactly how TC would react….and has in the past.
          “Skeletor from Masters of the Universe…”
          By The Power Of Taxpayer Funded Skulduggery !

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.