People power: Bramley residents call for opening time at the Barley Mow pub

5 April 2019

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A Grade II listed pub in Bramley which closed last year could become the city’s first community-run pub.

Local residents are hoping to buy back the disused Barley Mow pub – which has a £450,000 price tag – for the benefit of people in the area.

A public consultation event on Wednesday 10th April (6.30pm-8pm) with guided tours inside the building is offering a chance to suggest ideas about how the building could be used in future, and to learn about its historic links with Rugby League.

The resident-led Barley Mow Supporters group are inviting any interested people to get involved in the project, with the aim of creating a community pub that holds events, serves food and drink, provides space for local groups to meet, and that could be a springboard for new opportunities through learning, making and music.

Barley Mow Supporters have asked for suggestions from members of the public to find out more about the services and activities local people want and need.

Residents have suggested bringing the Barley Mow back along the lines of the 85 community pubs now trading across the UK.

Many of these pubs are part-owned by local people through shares, and some are social enterprises. Suggestions include a teaching kitchen, a play area, music rehearsal room and recording studio, community café, on-site brewery, cycle repair workshop, performance space, and bread depot.

Barley Mow Supporters are consulting local people to ensure that any new initiative will fill gaps in local services rather than compete with other businesses or projects in the area.

Barley Mow Supporters began to form after local residents Sophie Michelena and Fuzzy Jones spotted the pub was for sale, and wanted to bring it back for community use.

Community use

Ms Michelena, Chair of Barley Mow Supporters and Bramley resident said:

“I have lived near to the pub for 11 years. When it closed I thought there was an opportunity for it to become a community asset again and fill a gap in Bramley for a different kind of pub that compliments what is here already.

“I know many people who would like to find a place to go where they can relax, make friends, enjoy healthy food and drinks, listen to some music and learn from each other.

“We have already heard from many people who would like the Barley Mow to provide jobs and opportunities, to encourage confidence and creativity in this area, and to put local people at the heart of what happens there.

“Because there is already a great community spirit in this area, the Barley Mow could become a new source of hope and pride in Bramley, that inspires younger people who live here.”

Supporting local music

Fuzzy Jones, a Bramley resident and musician, said:

“I moved to Bramley to live with my girlfriend, and have lived in Leeds for 20 years. When I first came here, I went to the Abbey Inn folk night. It was the first time I’d ever performed at an open mic and I was very nervous, but the people there were so kind, and gave me the confidence and encouragement to perform.

“I’d like the Barley Mow to be a place where people of all ages get the encouragement and confidence to get involved and to be creative. I feel there’s definitely room in Bramley for more live music, a recording studio, maybe even a record label alongside a busy, friendly pub where your healthy home-made meal has given someone the chance to learn how to cook and is their opportunity to shine.”

Who currently owns the pub?

The pub is currently owned by Aprirose who bought it as part of a portfolio of 70 Mitchells and Butlers pubs in 2017. It is on the open market for £450,000.

Barley Mow has had a chequered history in recent years, but the Friends group believe it could be returned to its
former glory and restored as a community pub that brings people together for friendship, music, food and learning.

Barley Mow Supporters are inviting any interested parties to offer time and skills towards turning this vision into a reality. They say they won’t carry on if lots of people say it’s a bad idea, but if people are supportive they will move to the next stage, which includes business planning and finding the funds.

Some of the conversation on Facebook.

Bramley RL

The Barley Mow pub played a significant role in the history of the emerging sport of Rugby League, as the former home ground of the Bramley Rugby League club from 1881.

The club used the Barley Mow as changing rooms and the building has a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque to mark its support of rugby league.

Bramley Buffaloes rugby club chair Martyn Cheney is backing the bid. He said:

“As a community-owned organisation, we at Bramley Buffaloes believe in the principle of shared ownership and the benefits this can bring to the communities of Bramley.

“The Barley Mow holds a special place in the heart of the Bramley Buffaloes and its’ fans, as it was our home from 1890-1965, and the site of the first-ever international tour game in 1907 when it held the first game of the New Zealand All Golds pioneering tour of the UK.

“The Australians visited in 1921, and in 1947 when we played Leeds RLFC, 12,600 people crammed in to watch the game. Bramley Buffaloes has an affinity with the Barley Mow and would love to see it back in use as a community pub, run by the people and for the people of Bramley.”

Bramley History Society members have this week voted to endorse the idea of a community-run pub at the Barley Mow, that creates new opportunities and acts as a reminder of Bramley’s place in the history books.

Anyone not able to attend the public consultation on 10th April, can share questions and suggestions with Barley Mow Supporters by emailing bringbackbarleymow@gmail.com or on Facebook (Barley Mow Supporters) or Twitter @mowsupporters.

Earlier this year the former Glove pub building at the other end of Bramley Town Street re-opened as an undertakers.
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