The Traveller's Rest, Skeeby: Former Tan Hill Inn manager and head chef take on tenancy of Yorkshire pub that was run by villagers

A community-owned pub in Yorkshire that has faced difficulties with its leaseholder in the first year since re-opening for the first time since 2008 has awarded a new tenancy.

The Traveller’s Rest in Skeeby, near Richmond, only re-opened last spring after a 15-year closure, during which villagers fought a battle with a property developer who tried to win planning permission to convert the building into housing.

He eventually sold it to the Skeeby Community Pub Society, and the inn is now owned by a number of shareholders, many of whom live locally and oversee the business themselves.

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The pub was initially run on a tenanted model, with the lease awarded to Chris Wallace, who handed it back when his Richmond-based brewery ceased trading. Two committee members, Chris Soley and Ali Bell, and their wives then agreed to manage The Traveller’s Rest for six months on a ‘tenancy at will’ basis.

The Traveller's Rest at Skeeby, Richmond has been bought by the community after being derelict since 2008The Traveller's Rest at Skeeby, Richmond has been bought by the community after being derelict since 2008
The Traveller's Rest at Skeeby, Richmond has been bought by the community after being derelict since 2008

This period has now ended and the SCPS has now confirmed that former Tan Hill Inn general manager Nicola Townsend has been awarded the lease and that head chef Ryan Lockwood is moving with her.

The Tan Hill Inn in Swaledale is England’s highest pub, and both Ms Townsend and Mr Lockwood were assaulted during an incident at the site when a man armed with a gun shot a fellow guest following a drunken altercation.

Richard Bowser, 46, was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court last month for firing a revolver at victim Lee Jackson during a live music night. Trouble began when Ms Townsend asked him to leave the bar, and she was struck on the head while trying to protect two customers. Mr Lockwood was slapped and punched.

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Bowser, who has been staying at the pub’s glamping site with his wife, was jailed for 19 years for wounding and possession of firearms with intent.

The Traveller’s Rest said: “The tenancy at will agreement comes to an end this weekend. SCPS would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris, Cerian, Ali and Jen for all their hard work over the past six months, for keeping the doors open, and putting on some fantastic events during their time as tenants.

"We’re pleased to announce that Nicola Townsend will be taking over the tenancy on Monday 3 March. Nicola was previously general manager at The Tan Hill Inn and prior to that she managed an inn in Helmsley, and she brings a wealth of experience in hospitality. Nicola will be joined by Ryan Lockwood, an experienced chef with a passion for high quality seasonal food. Ryan has worked in high-end spa hotels and large restaurants both in the UK and Europe, and managed large teams of chefs. The existing staff will also join Nicola’s team."

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