Award-winning bar set to move into historic York shop

Being upgraded: the former Robson And Cooper shop on Lendal. Photograph: YorkMix
20 Jul 2017 @ 5.14 pm
| Food & Drink

One of York’s top independent bars and one of the city’s most historic shops are to come together under new plans.

House Of The Trembling Madness is proposing to move into the former Robson & Cooper shop on Lendal.

Trembling Madness has been looking for new premises for a while.

It has to move out of its Stonegate home because current landlord Bettys, which runs the tearoom next door and owns both buildings, does not want to renew the bar’s lease.

And the Lendal premises is “a good fit” for what will be a bar, restaurant and beer shop, say developers.

What’s proposed

Some of the beers on sale in the current House Of The Trembling Madness. Photograph: Trembling Madness

The basement – beer shop
Just like at its Stonegate base, the House Of The Trembling Madness is planning to sell a large range of bottled beers and spirits.

It would be open from 9am to midnight daily.

Ground floor – cafe
What was the shop floor of leather goods store Robson And Cooper will become a cafe, open from 8am to midnight.

Upper floors – bar
These will be converted into a bar and restaurant, opening from 8am to midnight.

Change of plan

An aerial view of Lendal, showing the old Robson And Cooper shop with the Graduate beer garden behind. Photograph: York Conservation Trust

After Robson And Cooper closed in 2014, its owners the York Conservation Trust planned to renovate it, and turn the upper floors into flats.

But after City of York Council’s decision to develop neighbouring York Guildhall into a complex with offices and a three-storey restaurant to the rear, “it was deemed not viable to proceed with the residential apartments” says the trust in its heritage statement.

That’s because the Robson And Cooper flats would have lost their views to the river and suffered increased noise disturbance from the Guildhall’s commercial developments.

So instead they are applying to City of York Council to change the planning permission from retail and residential to restaurant and bar.

On the move? Trembling Madness on Stonegate

The heritage statement says:

House of The Trembling Madness is a beer retail, restaurant and bar.

It is a unique and successful local business which has recently received national recognition as the Society of Independent Brewers Association ‘UK Craft Beer Retailer of the Year 2017’.

It is important such a business is retained in York for the continuation of trade and benefits to the local community this brings.

An impressive staircase inside the old Robson And Cooper building. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

The Guildhall Planning Panel is objecting to the plan owing to “the loss of retail space and the further concentration of drinking establishments”.

But it adds:

However, our objection is tempered due to the fact that the applicant likely has little choice regarding use of the property, which was originally intended for other uses.

The constraint has been imposed by the approval (against our objections) of the Guildhall development which has resulted in an unfair impact on neighbouring properties.

History of building and business

An old range in the basement of what was Robson And Cooper. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Known as ‘Fitzwilliam House’, 14 Lendal is part of a terraced development originally comprising of two three-storey townhouses built in the early 18th century.

The other two townhouses, 10-12 Lendal, were converted into a bank in 1957 and then became a pub 40 years later, now known as The Graduate.

Number 14 Lendal is a grade II* listed building which was bought by the York Conservation Trust in 2015.

Trophy room: inside the Trembling Madness on Stonegate

House Of The Trembling Madness was opened by Ian Loftus in the former Beams Tearooms in Stonegate in 2010.

He also runs the Evil Eye on the street. He began his search for new premises for the Trembling Madness when Bettys refused to extend his lease in 2015.