Lonely Planet Writer

A pub saved from closure by local villagers is named the best in Britain

In 2008, the only pub in the Yorkshire village of Hudswell shut down. Now, in an amazing turnaround, reports the BBC, the George & Dragon has been named national Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

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Villagers stepped in to buy the pub in 2010, forming the Hudswell Community Pub group and raising £200,000 to buy the pub and the land. The pub, which is Hudswell’s only community facility, now boasts a small shop, a library, allotments and free internet access. Camra’s Paul Ainsworth said that the “warm and welcoming” venue was a great example of a pub being resurrected as a community asset. “To go from closed doors to winning national Pub of the Year in just a few short years is a fantastic achievement for any pub,” he told the Telegraph, “and all the more impressive for one that is cooperatively owned. The story of the George & Dragon goes to show that in the right hands a closed pub can become viable and successful.

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Pubs trace their origins back to Roman taverns and Anglo-Saxon alehouses, but despite their importance in British life, many have shut over the last thirty years. Camra estimate that 27 pubs close every week, with the smoking ban and low prices for alcohol in supermarkets among the reasons given for the decline.

Over 50,000 pubs remain in the UK, however, and official measures have included tax relief for small ‘micropubs’ and legislation to improve relationships between pub owners and tenants. The rising popularity of craft beer and an increasing focus on food have also encouraged growth for many pubs. Camra formed in 1971 and aims to promote real ale, cider and traditional pubs.

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