Yorkshire villagers desperate to re-open 200-year-old pub where shipwreck survivors were treated

Residents in a tiny coastal community have made an impassioned plea against losing their only pub forever on the second anniversary of its closure.

Residents of Holmpton village outside the George and Dragon pub on New year's Eve Picture: Gary Longbottom
Residents of Holmpton village outside the George and Dragon pub on New year's Eve Picture: Gary Longbottom

Villagers in Holmpton, East Yorkshire, gathered outside the 210-year-old George and Dragon on New Year’s Eve - saying that without their meeting place they had become like “passing ships in the night”.

They also fear a permanent closure could lead to the demise of the village church, which relied on it to host fundraising events.

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Owner Charles Brokenbrow applied to change the pub to a house after shutting in December 2017 because it was operating at a loss.

The George and Dragon pub in Holmpton Picture: Gary Longbottom

He said: “I didn’t come here to lose my money at my time of life, because people don’t use their pub. We will not be opening the pub whatever happens - unless they want to buy it.”

East Riding councillors refused the application a year ago, for reasons including failing to provide ”sufficient clear evidence” that it is no longer economically viable.

It is now in the hands of a planning inspector, after Mr Brokenbrow appealed.

Churchwarden and regular for 50 years Pat Leckonby said quiz nights, auctions and raffles helped raise £600 to £800 towards St Nicholas Church’s running costs of at least £2,500 a year.

Villagers walking towards the pub in Holmpton on the second anniversary of its closure Picture: Gary Longbottom

She said: “It’s a big drop. If we do lose the pub we could lose the church.”

Mrs Leckonby said a staunch Methodist tried to close the pub in 1926. But it was refused because the pub was a place where shipwreck survivors were brought to recover.

Gillian Jessop, who ran a local holiday park for 20 years, said she and husband Nigel were interested in buying the pub and reopening - but could not get a price or a viewing.

She said: “I want a pub where everyone can come. This is a holiday area - you get walkers, cyclists and people from the caravan parks at Easington and Kilnsea,”

The nearest pub is more than two miles away and the bus service is extremely limited. The village has lost its shop, post office and garage.

Regular Hugh Reid said: “The owner is making out that the village let him down, but what kind of pub isn’t open at lunchtimes, or closes at 10pm on a Saturday and 9pm on a Sunday?

"There was a unanimous vote by East Riding councillors on the basis of local and national planning policy, and I can't see that any of that has changed."

Karen Craig, who has lived in Holmpton for 18 years, said it had been a “fantastic” pub and she felt disheartened that future generations would be deprived of a community hub.

She said: “Without the pub it’s a fractured community. It is the glue of the village.”

Mr Brokenbrow said the pub was still on the market at £250,000.

His estate agent had told him there had been inquries, but they had “never been offered one penny”.

He said after a three-month “honeymoon period” after opening, villagers “went back to their old ways”.

He said two previous owners had lost large sums of money, adding: “The problem was people just think you should spend money which isn’t their money. It wasn’t about making money but I couldn’t afford to keep losing money either.

“If it is such a wonderful pub why haven’t they bought it over the years?”

There's still an address in Holmpton called Rocket House, where the equipment was once kept in case of shipwrecks.

Rockets would be fired off the cliffs with ropes attached to the distressed ship to try and bring suvivors ashore in a bosun's seat.

The plans to close the pub were refused as a Bethel was needed for the survivors.

The Planning Inspectorate said the Inspector was "currently considering all the evidence and representations submitted and will make a decision in the New Year."