One of Harrogate’s landmark pubs, the famous The Old Bell, in the Montpellier quarter of the town centre, is re-opening with a new look and experience.
Close to the Pump Room Museum and Valley Gardens, the Old Bell has been renowned for offering outstanding real ales. While updating the interior, The Old Bell’s owner, Market Town Taverns, has been sensitive to the history of the pub.
MTT’s managing director, Louise Middlemass, said: “It’s been all about making sure we retain the essential character of the pub that everybody knows and loves.
“However, with changing tastes, there’s a fine balance between ensuring a pub remains historic, but does not become history! That’s meant moving with the times and broadening the Old Bell’s appeal.”
The original Old Bell emerged from the early 17th century alehouses which served visitors resorting to Harrogate’s famous Old Sulphur Well, which lies beneath the dome of the Royal Pump Room Museum opposite the premises. It was also a stage in the York to Harrogate coaching run.
In 1786, it was said of the tenants of the Bell tavern that they “provided a stock of the best wines and other liquors, and furnished the house in a manner commodious for the reception of the genteelest families…”
That original accolade has been the cornerstone of the 2017 refurbishment. The Old Bell’s manager, Craig Sheelan, said: “It’s incredible to think that today we’re still trying to keep that reputation going. Hopefully our regulars will like what we’ve done.
“It’s still The Old Bell and we’ve kept the heart of what makes it special: that’s a fantastic selection of craft and cask ales and boutique spirits, and home-cooked and locally-sourced food, but now with table service.
“Regular customers will still find much that is familiar — the original bar fashioned from an antique dresser and the original Farrah toffee shop memorabilia.”
Louise added: “It’s all still there, just restored, re-framed and refreshed.”
While the downstairs bar has received a relatively light touch, it is the upstairs at The Old Bell where the major updates are to be found.
Louise said: “We wanted to make the space lighter and much more accommodating for people to sit in comfortable surroundings, tap into our free wifi and relax or work. The space is also still available for private hire.”
Oh, and there’s also a resident ghost.