Last orders for couple at iconic Knaresborough pub

Paul Holden-Ridgway and his wife Debbie who are leaving The Blind Jack's pub. (1709053AM)
Paul Holden-Ridgway and his wife Debbie who are leaving The Blind Jack's pub. (1709053AM)

An era will come to an end at one of Knaresborough’s iconic pubs next week.

Emotions will be running high when Paul and Debbie Holden-Ridgeway say farewell to Blind Jacks after 16 years.

And when the long-standing landlord and lady pass on the keys to the door to the new landlord it will also be one small sign of the tougher competitive climate in Knaresborough’s pub trade.

Paul Holden-Ridgeway said: “We are leaving the pub in some very good hands, indeed, but it’s time to move on.

“Debbie is very emotionally attached to the pub and we’ve both loved running it for such a fantastic bunch of loyal regulars.

“Knaresborough is a great place to live and it’s sad to be leaving but I need to focus my attention on the brewery.”

After 16 years and eight months in charge, Paul and Debbie plan to go out with a final hurrah with Blind Jacks Beer Fest for three days from next Thursday.

When the couple first took over the pub on the Market Place it was already an institution for real ale lovers and fans of quality beers.

Former marine Paul was keen to bring Blind Jacks up to speed on the craft beer revolution and it’s a reason related to this which partly explains the couple’s imminent departure.

Paul said: “Since I set up Bad Co microbrewery three years ago which has grown more and more successful, I’ve got busier all the time.

“It’s been getting hard to divide my time between Blind Jacks and Bad Co and I no longer had the time to do everything I wanted to do in the pub.”

But the couple have also noticed recent changes in Knaresborough’s nightlife which have effected the town.

Paul said: “We’ve always had a good business at Blind Jacks and really loyal customers but the pub scene can be quite fickle in Knaresborough.

“People are quite price-sensitive over what they drink today and the arrival of Wetherspoons on the High Street has had a big impact on a lot of pubs in the town.”

The new landlord will be Christian Ogley who owns Christian’s Cafe on Leeds Road near Pannal in Harrogate.

Paul is confident he is the right man to maintain Blind Jacks’ unique status in the town.

He said: “We felt a few of the people who came round to see about taking it over weren’t really suitable for the job.But Christian has a lot of previous experience and his knowledge of beer and of Knaresborough itself is good.”

With superb beers from all across the UK, the pub is sure to be packed next week for the farewell festival.

It’s a chance for Paul and Debbie to thank not only their customers but also their own staff.

Paul said: “We’ve always offered a great selection of beers here but it’s the customers that make Blind Jacks great - and my wife Debbie. She’s done a cracking job.

“And we’ve been very lucky to have such great staff over the years.”