The Moorcock Inn, Garsdale: Landlady of 18th-century Yorkshire Dales pub near Settle to Carlisle line applies to convert it into tearoom and house

The owner of a remote 18th-century pub in the Yorkshire Dales has applied to turn the building into a tearoom and living accommodation for herself.

Joanne Cox has been the landlady of The Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head, between Sedbergh and Hawes, since 2016, but has applied for change of use consent from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority after struggling to keep the business viable.

In documents submitted, Mrs Cox confirms that she wishes to downsize after her children left the family home nearby and intends to convert the pub’s bar into her personal living accommodation, the old manager’s flat into a licensed tearoom and retain the letting bedrooms to provide a bed and breakfast service. She describes the Moorcock as suffering from ‘falling trade’.

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However, the application is a retrospective one because the building work began last October.

The Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head is the only pub for six milesThe Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head is the only pub for six miles
The Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head is the only pub for six miles

There have been eight objections to the scheme, most from Garsdale residents, who point out that The Moorcock is well-used by the farming community and Pennine Way walkers, whose needs would not be served by a tearoom. It is the only public house in a remote area, with the nearest inns being six miles away in Sedbergh or 12 miles away in Hawes.

Others point out that the building had 260 years of history as licensed premises which ‘should not be allowed to be lost’, and that in recent years it had been considered by locals to be busy. It is close to Garsdale Station on the Settle to Carlisle line and its location is comparable to other remote inns that trade successfully, such as Tan Hill.

Built in the 1740s for the coaching trade, the Moorcock certainly has an intriguing history. In the Georgian period it was called The Guide Post, and in the 1870s it was a regular haunt of navvies building the nearby railway line.

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After the train crash at Ais Gill in 1910, the bodies of the 12 victims were stored in the pub until they were taken away for burial and the inquest into the tragedy was also held there.

Joanne Cox has been the landlady since 2016Joanne Cox has been the landlady since 2016
Joanne Cox has been the landlady since 2016

It had to be extensively rebuilt in 1975, after landlord Ronald Bucknell, 73, and his wife Muriel, 65, were killed in a fire shortly after they had held a party at the pub to mark their retirement. They had been refused an application to extend their licence following police objections and had received an eviction notice.

They were found near the kitchen sink, suggesting they had died trying to fight the flames. An inquest later found the blaze was likely caused by a chip pan, and that the couple had the chance to escape but instead tried to tackle the fire and suffocated. It was believed they had been preparing a meal for Mrs Bucknell’s son, a doctor, who arrived to visit them shortly after the rescue operation in a snowstorm had begun.

Mrs Cox’s application is currently under consideration.

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