How a landlord, community and council put a pub back together

The Bridge Inn, Grinton, is thought by many regulars to be a community hub – the perfect place to have a pint and a catch up.

The last year has proved that it isn’t just a good local bar, but an incredibly resilient one, too.

Landlord Andrew Atkin, staff and members of the community have dealt with not one but three bouts of flooding over the past year, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

But Andrew has praised the work of the County Council, along with the people of Swaledale, to help to put the pub back together.

Devastating floods hit houses, farms and businesses in the upper Dales last summer. The Cogden bridge, behind The Bridge Inn, collapsed, cutting off the pub.

Andrew said: “I was very impressed with the way North Yorkshire County Council handled it all, their presence in the area. It made me realise how much they cared.”

When the rain hit, Andrew couldn’t have predicted the sheer volume that fell.

He added: “I’d been watching the rain and then I saw a few stones fall out, then suddenly the bridge had collapsed. It was quite biblical really, I put some towels at the door in the bottom bar… but the flooding burst through the wall.

“It came through, clearly the towels weren’t going to stop it happening. Water was rushing past the front door.”

The next morning, the community was out first thing clearing stones from the road outside.

Andrew said: “That was quite a positive thing to see – people out working together. There were people out there who hadn’t spoken in months or years all out working together.

“North Yorkshire County Council were fantastic, too, they dug out the beck and they were also using the car park to put materials on, but had information centres on the car park, which meant people could get updates on exactly what was going on.

“That meant a lot to me and the community, it was just very helpful at a time when we needed it.”

Andrew was the first person to drive over the repaired bridge – something he was pleased about because it meant customers were able to visit once again.

The pub has been hit by two more smaller floods this year, one in February and one in March.

He added: “North Yorkshire County Council dug the Gill out again just before the third flood and I think if they hadn’t the flood would have gutted the whole pub that time, so a big thank you for that.”

Some of the repair work done on the pub has been undone, and work was due to start in diverting the stream away from the pub and the pub cellar but was delayed due to the pandemic.

But Andrew remains positive.

He said: “You can’t dwell on these things happening, you have to stay positive and move on.

“With three floods, when Covid-19 hit I felt quite experienced in dealing with crises.

“During lockdown I spent time with my family and I’ve made some wonderful memories.

“The pub is open again now, we have social distancing and safety measures in place, but business is slowly starting to pick up.

“Work on the pub and car park, which was delayed, is scheduled to start in a couple of weeks, too, so I think my luck is turning.”

Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “North Yorkshire County Council was very pleased indeed to be able to give much-needed help and support to Mr Atkin, and to all the local residents of Grinton during those difficult times in the aftermath of the storm.

"Our area teams who work closely with their communities set up information points to keep everyone informed, and quickly set about putting measures in place to re-open roads and repair the damaged bridges. Helped enormously by the determined efforts of the local community, we ensured that life got back to normal again within a short period of time.

“When the bridges on the C106 Grinton to Leyburn Road and the B6270 Grinton to Downholme Road both collapsed, we devised a plan within two days of the event, secured £3m of Government funding and reopened the roads fully within weeks on newly constructed temporary structures, beating the target dates.  We will begin the building of permanent bridges in September.”