Pub preservation campaigners are in shock over ‘inappropriate and destructive’ plans to modernise two of Otley’s oldest inns.
Otley Pub Club have condemned brewer Heineken over their plans to convert the Black Bull and White Swan into trendy, city-style bars with industrial furniture and open plan seating. These are 12 of the oldest pubs in Yorkshire 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. This is the best pub in Yorkshire according to the Good Beer Guide 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. They have also alerted Otley Town Council, Otley Conservation Task Force, Historic England and CAMRA. [ . . . ]
Continue Reading at YORKSHIRE POST: Outrage over Heineken’s plans to turn 250-year-old Yorkshire pub into ‘industrial-style city centre bar’