The George and Dragon, Hudswell: Tenant returns to Yorkshire Dales community pub just 16 months after giving up the lease - but will run it 'sustainably'

The owners of a community pub in a Yorkshire village who ended up using volunteers to keep it open after their last leaseholders left have appointed a new tenant.

Stuart Miller will return to run The George and Dragon in Hudswell, near Richmond, just 16 months after he gave up the lease to focus on his craft brewery business.

In the interim, local couple Mark and Michelle Firby took on the tenancy, but departed in the summer after saying they could not viably run the pub.

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The situation meant that the shareholders who saved the pub from closure in 2010 by buying the building themselves had to recruit local residents to help the board members and staff to man the bar. They even had to refurbish the pub, as the fixtures, fittings and furniture had been removed.

Now, the Hudswell Pub Company have announced that they have gone full circle by reappointing Mr Miller – who says that his management of the inn will change in line with current customer trends and financial challenges.

Mr Miller, who was one of three ‘very strong’ applicants, will take on the lease from December 18 and re-open for trading on the 22nd. During his previous stint, which began in 2014, The George and Dragon won CAMRA’s prestigious National Pub of the Year title in 2017.

He said: “I am delighted to be taking on the George and Dragon again after a 16-month break. I think that we must adapt to the times and I will be running the pub slightly differently in the future. With so many pub closures, particularly in rural areas, I think we need a new more sustainable model.

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“We will build on our previous success with cask ale and supplement this with a more modern craft beer offering as well as our excellent range of quality wines and spirits. We are looking to operate with more flexible opening hours, reflecting the different seasons but will concentrate our efforts on the busiest times providing a varied offering of food.

Stuart Miller has returned to run The George and Dragon at HudswellStuart Miller has returned to run The George and Dragon at Hudswell
Stuart Miller has returned to run The George and Dragon at Hudswell

"This will give us time to organise more events, plus support local clubs and community social gatherings during the week. I am also looking forward to holding a number of beer festivals through the year.

Board member Ian Whinray added: “Having run the pub ourselves for over two months we are acutely aware of how difficult it is, and now having gained that understanding we are looking forward to working closely with Stuart as he takes The George and Dragon forward into a new era for our famous village pub.

"We would also like to thank all the staff and volunteers that helped to keep the pub open, doing the cleaning, gardening, painting, working behind the bar, waitressing and many other jobs that keep the pub running.”

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Company director Tim Swettenham said: “We are a relatively small community that punches well above its weight by displaying vision and commitment to ensuring the continuing success of an important local institution. As a community pub we are accountable to our members, and we were convinced that Stuart’s proposal was the best to guarantee the future of the pub.”