Future unclear for York pub as well-known landlord quits

It was relaunched as a traditional real ale pub. Photograph: the Woolpack on Twitter
16 Sep 2016 @ 6.30 pm
| Food & Drink

Two years after its last transformation it’s all change again for a York pub.

The Woolpack Inn looks set to close temporarily after its landlord quit, saying he struggled to make it pay.

Steve Bradley took over at the Fawcett Street pub when it re-opened in October 2014. But he will leave after it closes on Saturday night (September 17).

Flashback to when Steve took over at the Woolpack in October 2014. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Flashback to when Steve took over at the Woolpack in October 2014. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Steve told YorkMix: “I’ve just elected not to renew my lease, as I’m looking at another project next year.

“I just didn’t see The Woolpack being able to achieve the level of business necessary to justify the work put into it. A shame really as I really had grown fond of the place and had almost two great years there.”

He said he couldn’t elaborate on his new project for legal reasons.

‘Interesting options’

Looking to the future… the Woolpack. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Looking to the future… the Woolpack. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Previously a Punch Taverns pub, the Woolpack was bought in 2013 by Paul Crossman and Jon Farrow, who also own The Slip Inn and The Volunteer Arms.

It was well-known as a live music venue. But in July 2014 they closed the pub, saying it was “no longer financially viable for us to continue in this form”.

When the Woolpack opened again after a refit it was as a traditional real ale pub, serving Yorkshire brewed beers.

Paul told us that the Woolpack would bounce back again.

We have a couple of interesting options that we are exploring, but we are not quite in a position to comment in detail yet.

There may be a short closure while we finalise our plans, and then the pub will be reopening.

Sorry that I cannot say more just yet, but I would say that we are optimistic about the pub’s future, and that it looks set to continue in a form that will please many people.

Steve offered his thanks to “all who supported the best little pub in York”. He is looking forward to his last weekend there “despite a touch of sadness”.

He posted on Facebook: “Hope to see as many friends as possible for a weekend of music and mirth.

“Just be aware we are naturally running stock down so we won’t have the usual range of beers but we’ll have enough to keep you watered. Lots of Red Stripe could be in order!”

Historic pub

The Woolpack in 1933. Photograph © Explore York Libraries And Archives
The Woolpack in 1933. Photograph © Explore York Libraries And Archives

Built in about 1845, it was previously called The Fat Ox, but was known as the Woolpack by 1867. In 1902 four of its six bedrooms were set aside to let to travellers, and it had three smoke rooms and a cellar.

In his book A Directory of York Pubs, historian Hugh Murray writes: “There was no WC for customers and the urinal entrance was on the street.”

The building was Grade II listed in 1983.