Harrogate's 'hidden' pub's amazing revival

Cheers! The Knox pub owners Simon and Katie Swannie.
Cheers! The Knox pub owners Simon and Katie Swannie.

A popular local couple have transformed one of Harrogate’s hidden gems of a pub.

Tucked away down Knox Lane in Bilton, the Knox Arms was almost forgotten about by many Harrogate residents for several years.

Between the years of 1996 to 2002 it was probably best known for being the home of Harrogate’s only folk club, Friday 13th Folk Club.

Now it’s independent, has a new name, The Knox, and new owners Simon and Katie Swannie.

The pub’s recognisable stone frontage may remain the same but the couple are in the process of making The Knox a community hub for all the family.

Simon said: “As Bilton residents we used to visit the pub, unfortunately this stopped as we found there was a better product offering and experience elsewhere.

“We wanted to change our career paths and work for ourselves.

“The potential of the site and the business was obvious so we set about exploring the possibility of buying the business with the previous owner.

“It was a long process but from day one we knew we had made the right decision.”

Married with two children, Simon’s background was in sales while Katie was an IT systems manager in the NHS.

Their new roles seem to be paying off, thanks to the help of local residents.

Simon said: “We could not have done this without the superb support we have received from our local community and our wonderful team.

“We have a fantastic community spirit at The Knox, this ties with one of our key values, to employ local people, support fellow local business and local charities”.

Having finally purchased The Knox last year, Simon and Katie have been working hard to rejuvenate the business and have exciting plans to develop it further.

Last Sunday saw them host a Beach Party at the pub, complete with donkey rides, a Punch & Judy show, a surf board simulator, a bouncy castle and more than 20 tonnes of play-sand.

Simon said: “We have focused our efforts on creating an environment where all the family can enjoy good quality food and drink.

“It’s been a fantastic journey and we are very proud of what we have achieved.”

As well as last weekend’s fun activities, The Knox also hosted a charity bungee jump for The Diabetes Resource Centre at Harrogate & District Hospital in July. A weekly Monday-night pub quiz is also proving popular.

But the couple are not going to rest on their laurels and have plenty of plans to end The Knox’s days as a hidden gem.

Katie said: “We have a long term vision. We are always looking for new ways to improve the business and product offerings; we are committed to listening to our customer’s feedback and responding to it.

“We are delighted to have achieved Cask Marque accreditation this year and through our events we have donated over £3,000 to local charities”