An empty Grade II Listed pub which boasts art deco styling and distinctive cladding is set to reopen – five years after regulars supped their last pint.
New landlady Jaime-Leigh Gaunt, 26, is taking on the job of restoring The Beech Hotel, at the bottom of Tong Road, to its former glory.
Many of the Beech’s internal fittings and fixtures are original and the pub is a rare surviving example of its type.
Jaime Leigh says she’s confident that the Beech will be a success at a time when pubs are closing across the country at a rate of over 30 a week. She feels The Beech’s position ‘at the heart of its community’ puts it in a strong position. She said:
“My stepfather ran a pub in Idle, so I’ve been in and around the trade for a while. I love it. I’m a people person and pubs bring people together.
“The Beech is somewhere for people to come in the community, it’s ideal for people who don’t like Armley Town Street or who don’t want to go into the city centre. It’s a focus for the local community that they perhaps haven’t had for a while.
“My dad used to drink in here, so it has a lot of memories attached to it for me.
“Because the building is Grade II Listed you can’t change a great deal but we have have done a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of refurbishment and getting things working properly again, which a lot of people won’t see. They’ll see some minor changes but it’ll be the same Beech at heart. Local people have a lot of memories here and for me it was a good business opportunity.”
The new landlady, who will be running the pub with partner Melissa, says regulars will be able to enjoy Sky and BT Sports, and she’s hoping to introduce darts and dominos teams, restart the Beech Celtic football team and run a poker night where you can win a trip to Las Vegas. The free house will also boast open fires in its rooms to warm up chilly regulars this winter.
The Beech will reopen with a special event from 6pm on Friday, November 27, which will include champagne and a buffet and reggae and ska ban Elements from 9pm.
There has been a public house at the front of the site in Tong Road since the 1850s, while the range of buildings at the back was occupied by housing in the past.
A 1931 reconstruction by Melbourne Ales provided the layout and facade as they are today, with minor alterations. Melbourne Brewery was taken over by Tetley’s in 1960, before the pub was taken over by Punch Taverns. Punch sold The Beech in 2011.
The Beech was named a Grade II listed building in 2010 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Note: This article was amended on Sunday,18 October to calrify the opening date.