A HISTORIC pub in Birstall has a new lease of life after a dramatic last-minute rescue.
The 17th century, Grade II-listed Black Bull on Kirkgate was set to close on Easter Monday – but a chance phone call led to a reprieve.
A regional manager from Enterprise Inns took the call, about a desperate search for someone to run the Black Bull.
The search seemed doomed to end in failure – but the call was mentioned to Matt Harrison, who was in talks about taking over a pub in Wakefield.
Matt, 32, of Normanton, offered to stand in on a temporary basis – and now the response from Bull regulars has persuaded the father-of-two to stay for good.
Customers set up a petition signed by more than 200 people calling for him to stay.
He said: “The response was overwhelming. And I also quickly formed an emotional attachment to the building.”
Matt’s efforts at the picturesque watering hole, which used to be a courthouse, include a rotating list of real ales and a revamped food menu.
Matt’s sons Alfie, nine, and Kobie-Lee, four, described as “two cheeky chappies”, have delighted locals.
And the pub is pet-friendly, with Matt’s own three-year-old Chinese Shar Pei dog, Clyde, the star of the show.
Matt has struck an agreement with funeral directors for the hosting of post-service functions.
He also wants football and dominoes teams and aims to host coffee mornings on behalf of the neighbouring parish church.
He said: “When I walked in there was literally nothing – no gas, no electricity. I had to start from scratch, down to ordering new glasses and beer mats.
“But so many pubs have closed, and if this one had gone, given its history, it would have been a devastating blow to the community.”