Exelby village has bid accepted for Green Dragon pub

When a village community is stripped of its only bus service, is without a shop and has recently seen its pub shut, there is a real risk of social isolation taking hold.

The Green Dragon pub at Exelby near Bedale. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.
The Green Dragon pub at Exelby near Bedale. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

Exelby is only two miles south-east of Bedale and about half-a-mile from the A1 but when basic service provision is missing, as it is here, anywhere would feel like it was out on a limb.

The Hambleton village is only made up of about 80 homes but it has been busy harnessing its collective talents to arrest the village’s plight.

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It was in January that villagers saw their only public transport link cut when a bus service to Ripon was lost. Exelby’s only pub the Green Dragon had been operating under the ownership of Enterprise Inns but it shut in April.

Residents in the village have come together in a bid to run the only local pub.

Residents will tell you however that the pub had not been the much-loved, vibrant community hub that it once was for some time. In fact, two years ago, residents got together to successfully apply to the local authority for the pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value.

With support from The Plunkett Foundation, villagers formed a community benefit society and tabled an offer to Enterprise Inns to purchase the pub for themselves.

This week, The Yorkshire Post got in touch with John Walker, the society’s secretary, to find out how their bid was progressing, and after chatting about how hard the community was working to make their dream a reality, Mr Walker, 54, got back in touch later the same day to announce some good news.

“Our offer has been accepted!” he said. “We are delighted and hope to now bring the Green Dragon back to life.”

Community shares will be made available for residents to buy a stake in the pub, with the intention of raising about £300,000.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the community as a whole,” said Mr Walker, who explained that a meeting would be held on Tuesday at the Old Forge at 7pm for anyone with an interest in backing the venture.

“It’s not just about the pub, it’s about a community resource for people to come together and meet, it’s about combatting social isolation,” Mr Walker said of the residents’ group’s plans.

“You have to go by car to go anywhere so having a pub will help in that respect.

“We want to have a small shop, a cafe, to hold lots of events and have community facilities. It’s what people in our community need and want.

“It will be good for attracting new people into the village as well.”

The group’s also hopes to go on and renovate a cottage to create community let housing.

Mr Walker said: “We still have a mountain to climb, we are not there yet, but if all goes to plan we will look to reopen the pub in the autumn.”

FACTS

The North Yorkshire village lies in the civil parish of Exelby, Leeming and Newton.

In the 1086 Domesday Book, Exelby is noted as “Aschilebi”, with only one man, but 20 ploughlands, and in the North Riding’s Land of Count Alan.

For more details about the Green Dragon community share option, stay tuned to www.exelbygreendragonpub.co.uk