Otley Pub Club and Otley Community Pub Group have slammed Thwaites following the sale of the historic Manor House for alternative use.
Greg Mulholland, president of Otley Pub Club, and Lisa Herries, coordinator of the Otley Community Pub Group, outside the Manor House
The news was confirmed to Otley Pub Club by Thwaites, which had previously failed to reply several emails from the club and group. It had also failed to respond to another expression of interest from an interested local brewery, say the campaigners.
The Manor, which dates back to the 19th century, is named after Thomas Constable’s impressive grade II listed home. It is a tribute to how Constable and his sister helped Irish refugees fleeing An Gorta Mór in the 19th century, moving to Otley to start new lives. Several of the Irish families later became publicans.
In recent years, the pub has featured a bust and a portrait of Thomas Constable to celebrate this important Otley history.
“Otley Pub Club is appalled that the historic Manor House pub has been sold for alternative use, when it could and should have a bright future as a pub,” said Greg Mulholland, president of Otley Pub Club.
“It is heartbreaking that when an excellent local brewery is prepared to invest very significant amounts of money to repair and refurbish the Manor, that Thwaites refused their offer.
“Thwaites have known for several years that the roof was in need of repair, and the damage this has done has been significant. Thwaites should be ashamed both of their neglect of this historic building and their decision to refuse the brewery bid.
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“We will be making clear to the new owners and to Leeds City Council that planning permission must not be given, when there has been this interest, showing it is viable if sold at a fair price.”
Lisa Herries, coordinator of the Otley Community Pub Group, added: “We are devastated that the famous Manor House could be lost, when it is a clearly a viable pub.
“For years, right up until Covid, it was a popular and successful pub, a real community local with live music and a wonderful fire. It just isn’t right that Thwaites have sold it when they have had offers as a pub and the support of the community in seeing it re-open.
“We urge the new owners to meet with the community and work with us to keep the Manor as a pub rather than unnecessarily destroying this much loved local asset and important part of Otley’s history.”
James Watson, pub protection officer at the Campaign for Pubs, said: “It is a national scandal that we are losing historic and viable pubs like the Manor House in Otley, despite there being operators wanting to buy them, properly invest in them, and keep them as pubs serving their communities.
“Far too many pubs nationally have suffered years of neglect and under-investment, with pub companies taking their rent and wet rent, but without properly maintaining these heritage buildings. The gGovernment must listen and act and introduce our Give Pubs Protection policy to stop this and to give every historic pub the chance of positive new ownership”.