WHILE several local pubs are on the market or are closed, one of Ryedale’s best-known hostelries, the Crown and Cushion, in Welburn, has reopened after a £1m makeover.

Behind the venture is a North Yorkshire company, Provenance Inns, which has been set up to run country pubs. It has already invested in The Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk, The Oak Tree Inn at Helperby, and The Punch Bowl Inn at Marton-cum-Grafton.

The company was set up three years ago by Michael Ibbotson and Chris Blundell, who run one of Yorkshire’s best-known historic pubs, The Durham Ox, in Crayke, and who have since seen their portfolio of country inns expand significantly.

Running the Crown and Cushion is John Glover, the general manager, who for 12 years ran his own licensed premises at Cockermouth in Cumbria, before moving to the 18th century pub at Welburn, which was closed for three months before Provenance took it over.

Karen Metcalfe, who began her catering career as a part-time waitress at 14, and is today helping master-mind Provenance’s country inns and restaurants, said: “There is a buoyant future for village pubs if they serve good quality food at a fair price, have the right ambience and offer a warm welcome.”

With Castle Howard close by and the A64 just a mile away, the Crown and Cushion is well placed, said Karen, to capitalise on the tourist trade.

As well as giving a new lease of life to the picturesque pub, the business is also providing employment for 25 full and part-time staff, most of whom live locally.

Special menus have been created including a curry night each Monday and pie and pint nights.

On Thursday the 80-cover restaurant will be staging a game dinner, while a hectic programme of meals is planned for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Provenance is shortly reopening two more premises, The Black Bull at Moulton, and the West Park Hotel, in Harrogate.

Meanwhile, The Mayfield Hotel, at Seamer, and Scalby’s Plough Inn, have been taken over by theatrical impressario, Nick Thomas.

The Mayfield reopens on December 2 after a £500,000 makeover, while The Plough is getting a similar investment and will reopen next summer.