SEVEN months after the last pint was pulled in a popular Otley pub its doors have re-opened.

Licensee of The White Swan Jason Smith and his team were joined by Greg Mulholland and members of Otley Pub Club to celebrate its much-anticipated re-opening following a joint £228,000 sympathetic upgrade with Star Pubs & Bars.

It will have been 14 months since refurbishment was due to start and seven months since the last pint was pulled in this popular local.

The occasion provided further reason for celebration as all five of Star Pubs & Bars pubs in the town have now been taken on by operators on long term leases, something Otley Pub Club had sought.

The pubs include:

• The Junction, an old-fashioned real ale house, taken on by Jason post lockdown.

• Whitakers, a community pub with tourist appeal which reopened at the start of November under new licensees following a six to seven months closure.

• The Black Bull, a wet-led pub offering traditional food and Otley’s most historic pub, originally frequented by Oliver Cromwell. The licensees recently invested themselves in an upgrade of the pub.

• The Fleece, a family friendly pub.

Licensee Jason Smith, who also ran The Malt Shovel in Menston, for the last four years, said: “It’s been a long time waiting first for the refurbishment and then to be able to throw open our doors to our loyal and local customers. It’s just not the same drinking beer at home. But it is absolutely worth it to see my customers and staff’s happy faces.

“I am passionate about keeping UK pubs alive. I believe it is more important than ever to invest in pubs to provide customers with comfortable, safe and inviting surroundings to encourage them to come out. It’s not enough just to open your doors and hope customers will come, especially in Otley which has more pubs than any other town in England, you need to continue to evolve and improve your offer.

“I am confident about the future of great well-run pubs, and as proof intend to take on The King’s Arms in Silsden in June.”

Greg Mulholland, President of Otley Pub Club said: “It was great to have a preview of the refurbished White Swan, Otley, in advance of its reopening again from Monday 17th May. It looks great, just right for this important and historic pub and I’m sure it will please existing regulars and new customers alike. Jason and the team really understand the Swan and his vision and experience have been key to getting this right alongside Star Pubs, who listened and engaged and we thank them and Craig in particular for working with us, to everyone’s benefit.

“It’s also great that all Star’s pubs in Otley now have long-term tenants in place, which is good news for the town and Otley Pub Club will continue to support them all!”

Craig Foweather, Business Development Manager for Star Pubs & Bars said: “It’s been great working with Jason who shared our vision for The White Swan to broaden its appeal and make it sustainable in the long term.

“We have also listened to the concerns of Otley Pub Club about having licensees running the town’s pubs who are there for the long-term. We have worked to deliver the consistency they have wanted. So today is an opportunity to raise a glass to Jason and his teams at The White Swan and The Junction and to the licensees of our other pubs, who are doing a fantastic job in these challenging times.”

All Star Pubs & Bars in Otley are reopening on May 17. The Black Bull and Whitakers were already open outside.