“This is part of Exelby’s renaissance from being a village left with no services to one with a vibrant hub offering a go-to community pub, restaurant and now a shop and café together with the village’s first affordable housing!”
Exelby is a village of just 80 households, 12 miles north of Ripon in North Yorkshire. It has a bus shelter, but buses from the local market town, Ripon, no longer stop there.
The last service heading to and from there every Thursday ended last year, leaving residents, particularly the older ones, somewhat stuck. No longer car drivers, they were reliant on the bus to buy their weekly shop.
But this small village had residents that had decided, some time ago, to take responsibility for their own community wellbeing and services themselves.
The Green Dragon, the local pub, had always been a focal point in the community of Exelby. It was well used and hosted lots of different community events. But, since its acquisition by a national pub chain in 2007, it had lost its way; it had stopped selling food, and made little attempt to maintain or build up trade.
In 2016 residents were faced with the all too familiar scenario of a national pub chain seeking to dispose of an ‘unprofitable asset’, selling to the highest bidder for development, without any meaningful community consultation.
Residents were determined that this would not happen to their village.
The Exelby Green Dragon Group was set up in late 2016 with the aim to buy and restore the pub to its former glory and rekindling the community spirit that had always been a special characteristic of the village.
And in October 2018 they did just that.
Through a successful community share scheme, grants from Plunkett Foundation and The Pub is the Hub, and support from Hambleton District Council and Community First Yorkshire, the residents of Exelby – under a Community Benefit Society – bought the Green Dragon pub and the cottage attached to it.
The pub was fully renovated and new vibrant landlords opened it in December 2018.
And now it is the hub of the village once again.
As well as great food, quizzes, and of course, a place for a drink, the Green Dragon hosts a gardening club, regular talks, crafting group and was a hive of activity surrounding the Tour de Yorkshire. It really is the heart of the village.
The attached cottage, 1 High Row, is the community’s first venture into community led housing. The community group wanted to develop a property in the village that was available at an affordable rent, long term, for locals.
It was planned after a housing needs assessment with Hambleton Council’s Rural Housing Enabler. The cottage’s first tenant has now taken up residence.
But that is not all. More recently, realising once again the responsibility a community has to make the most of their own village, this Easter saw the village group opening a community shop and Scandinavian-inspired cafe in an adjacent room to the pub.
With its own entrance and ‘hygge’ vibe, it brings an alternative venue for residents and visitors to be social in and enjoy locally sourced produce, boosting the local economy along the way.
The store stocks all the basic supplies the residents need, literally offering a lifeline to the village’s older residents.
So the Ripon bus may no longer stop in Exelby, but the community has brought the town’s facilities right into the village.
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More information on the Exelby Green Dragon can be found at: www.exelbygreendragonpub.co.uk Contact: John Walker, Secretary, 07791 128183 firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Simpson, Chairman 07563 963802 email@example.com