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Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

Fred Baker presents the Pub of the Season Summer 2017 plaque to the staff at the Boat House, Skipton, July 2017

Narrow Boat chugs to eighth award

Keighley and Craven CAMRA members have voted for the Narrow Boat, Victoria Street, Skipton as their Pub of the Season for Spring 2013. This is the eighth time that the Narrow Boat has won the award since opening in March 1999 probably a record within the branch area. Situated in a narrow alleyway (or “ginnel”) between the High Street and Coach Street, close to the canal basin, the pub was originally a wine bar, opened in 1988 as part of the award-winning town centre redevelopment scheme which was highly praised by the Prince of Wales. Following closure of the original wine bar at the end of 1998, the premises were acquired by Market Town Taverns PLC, a company set up by long-standing CAMRA member and pub entrepreneur Ian Fozard from Knaresborough and after a thorough refurbishment, involving redecorating in traditional pub style, it reopened in March 1999 as the new company‘s first “traditional ale and wine bar”.

Furnished with wooden tables and old church pews and decorated with brewery mirrors and posters from across the UK and Europe, the new company‘s first outlet had, and still has, a comfortable traditional feel, with no jukebox, piped music or gaming machines to disturb the conversation. The main downstairs bar area was non-smoking from the outset, while smoking was permitted on the upstairs “minstrels‘ gallery” until about a year before the nationwide smoking ban came into effect in July 2007. Smokers can still use the wooden picnic tables under the portico in front of the building. Four handpumps at the left-hand end of the bar served a selection of regular local ales, while the four at the right-hand end dispensed an ever-changing selection of beers from independent brewers, mainly in the North of England. A good selection of draught and bottled American and continental beers were, and still are, available, as well as good but simple food and a selection of wines and spirits.

In the summer of 2006, the opportunity was taken to acquire the adjacent premises, which had been a wedding dress shop, and this enabled the pub to virtually double in size and provide much improved kitchen and toilet facilities. The downstairs part of the extension became a comfortable lounge-type room which rapidly became popular with diners, while the upstairs area was made into a spacious function room, which is much used for meetings, private parties, etc.

The present manager, Tim Hughes, took over in February 2008 and shortly afterwards traditional draught ciders and perries were introduced usually one or two in winter and three or four in summer. In the autumn of 2011 Market Town Taverns was taken over by the hotel and leisure group Heron & Brearley, the parent company of Okells Brewery, in the Isle of Man. This is reflected in the recent choice of Okells Manx Pale Ale as one of the four regular beers, alongside Black Sheep Bitter, Ilkley Mary Jane and Timothy Taylor Landlord. The four rotating guest beers are drawn from an ever-increasing number of independent breweries across the UK, including Abbeydale, Bowland, Durham, Great Heck, Hawkshead, Leeds, Ossett, Phoenix, Salamander, Saltaire, Thornbridge, Thwaites and Wentworth.

The Narrow Boat is open from 12.00 to 23.00, seven days a week. Food is served from 12.00 to 14.30 and 17.30 to 21.00 on Mondays to Fridays, from 12.00 to 20.00 on Saturdays and from 12.00 to 16.00 on Sundays. Skipton Folk Club meet in the upstairs function room on Monday evenings at 20.30 and a prize quiz, in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, is held on Wednesday evenings at 21.00. Dogs with well-behaved owners are welcome, but children under 14 are only admitted when dining with adults.

Andy Grant

The Narrow Boat, 38 Victoria Street, Skipton BD2 1JE. Telephone: 01756 797922. Website: http://www.markettowntaverns.co.uk

Note: Previous awards were: Spring 2011, Spring 2010, Winter 2008/9, Spring 2003, Autumn 2001, Autumn 2000, Autumn 1999.

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